What Problems Are You Trying to Solve?
In that first conversation, I asked her what problems she was trying to solve as the chief executive officer of a major nursing association. I was surprised and deeply impressed by her response.
I expected her to focus on the administrative challenges associated with her role as CEO. Instead, she responded as a member of the nursing profession. A registered nurse herself, Mary described a number of important problems that extended far beyond the complexities of running an association. In particular, she noted the need for a much deeper understanding of the changing role of infusion nursing, specifically in the context of the disbanding of infusion teams to achieve economic efficiency. She articulated the need for rigorous empirical research on how disbanding infusion teams has had an impact on downstream outcomes, such as hospital readmissions, infection rates, costs, and patient satisfaction.
Then, in turn, she asked me: “What problems are you trying to solve as an academic researcher?” I answered that my students and I were looking for data on important health care-related challenges. At that point, it struck both of us that we had common interests and mutually compatible resources.
A partnership was born. Together we designed and launched a large-scale, multiwave research project involving INS members and 3 additional major nursing associations. We collected survey data from more than 1200 nurses across the country to understand how infusion practices have changed and how those changes are influencing numerous outcomes, including the quality of patient care, and nurses' satisfaction and other attitudes about the profession. In the next phases of our research, we will collect additional data to understand how changes in nursing are affecting objective clinical outcomes, such as readmissions and infection rates.
Our work already has led to 2 peer-reviewed research publications and multiple conference presentations, which provide a platform for the dissemination of the knowledge nurses have contributed. We are on track to deliver research that not only advances the academic literature but also makes a difference in the lives of nurses and their patients.
Our research partnership with INS has brought us a genuine appreciation of the tremendous commitment nurses have to their patients, to one another, and to improving the profession as a whole. We thank all INS members for your dedication and professionalism.