Anne Dabrow Woods, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, AGACNP-BC, FAAN
Wolters Kluwer - Health, Learning, Research & Practice
This past week, we have been writing about the Nurses Week theme: Nurses Inspire, Innovate, Influence. What does influence mean and do we, as professional nurses, have the responsibility to influence those around us? The definition of influence according to the dictionary is "the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself." In essence, it means having the ability to be an instrument of change.
Change – not a favorite of those of us in clinical practice. It is much easier to accept things the way they have always been and not change our practice. However, we know that we are required to practice using the best available evidence and use best practice to provide quality patient care. As nurses, we are then required to influence our colleagues to practice using a higher standard to provide continuity of care; in essence, be a clinical leader at the bedside.
Practice is not the only place where nurses can be influential. Nurses need to be present where decisions are being made about healthcare and our own practice. That means we must be present where discussions are taking place about quality improvement, the physical practice environment, the equipment we will use in our practice, the monitors we use and even electronic healthcare record choices.
We must have a voice in the C-suite which means our chief nursing officer/executive and chief informatics officer must be at the same level as their medical counterparts. We must be part of healthcare boards and on boards that affect people. Who better to be advocates for people than nurses who care for them at some of the best and worst times of their lives.
Nurses must be present where decisions are being made related to our scope of practice and that means we must have a voice at the local, state, and federal level. We must understand the issues that are being discussed and voice our concerns and our support appropriately.
Never doubt the influence you have on the people around you, especially your family. I have three daughters and each of them have grown up to be influential women who are not afraid to use their voices and their actions to stand up for what they believe in.
Perhaps where we have the most influence is with our patients. We are advocates for our patients and can help our patient's make informed decisions regarding their healthcare and their life. We guide and teach our patients to understand diseases and conditions, how to take their medications, how to prevent sickness and most importantly, how to live their life as one of wellness.
Nurses are the most trusted profession for a reason and we have been for many years according to the gallop poll. It is because we have the courage and the ambition to inspire, innovate and influence others to be the best they can be.