Speaker: Nurses should have more influence in medical field

Student nurses should be courageous and focus on developing health care solutions when they enter the professional nursing field, one industry expert said.

Susan Hassmiller, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Senior Advisor for Nursing and the director of the Initiative on the Future of Nursing at the Institute of Medicine, visited campus Thursday as part of the W.F. “Tex” and Pauline Rankin Lectureship in Nursing and called for nurses to take the initiative to lead new nursing developments, engage in their own research and embrace technology.

Hassmiller said nurses need more influence in the decision-making aspect of the medical field. The only way for nurses to more effectively communicate with other health care officials is to collaborate on patient care issues and present a united voice in the community, she said.

“While the system is in chaos, step up to the plate and take some leadership responsibility,” Hassmiller said. “Your expertise is wanted.”

She said it is important that nurses have a part in the decision-making process not only at health care organizations and research facilities, but also in legislative decisions.

“Decisions are made by those who show up,” Hassmiller said.

For students and universities, Hassmiller said, education should be redesigned to make the curriculum relevant and current to the modern needs of patients and fellow nurses.

Hassmiller said the 85-and-older age demographic is the fastest growing segment of the hospital population and nursing education does not do enough to train students in these patients’ particular needs. In addition, the majority of health care funding is spent on chronic care, and students need more practice working with these patients, she said.

Mathilde Perrin, a junior nursing major, said she felt the university’s program had prepared her for professional nursing, but the program could be improved by adjusting to the changes in patient needs and demographics.

“Our mindset in the TCU nursing school is that every student should be a leader,” Perrin said.