It is with mixed feelings that I sit down to write this, my last, critical thinking column. It is hard to believe that my time leading this organization has come to a close.
Two years ago I chose the theme Speak with Conviction, as I believed that critical care nurses must speak with conviction and have a united voice to ensure that our critically ill patients receive the best care possible. As care providers we are influential in driving evidence-based services across units, organizations and communities. If we neglect to speak up someone else will fill the void our silence creates, someone who may not advocate for our patients with the same degree of passion, knowledge and awareness of need. This is fundamentally the reason that I chose Speak with Conviction for my theme.
Speaking with conviction could be as simple as advocating for family presence at rounds or developing position statements for our specialty nursing community, CACCN. Many of you stepped up with us on this journey by participating on national CACCN committees, engaging with your local chapter, responding to surveys and opinion polls or through participation on our forum pages.
The national Board of Directors of CACCN has worked diligently over the past two years to raise the profile of critical care nursing and to speak with conviction. We expect these efforts to position our organization as the one to ‘go to’ for our health care partners to engage on issues impacting critical care nursing.
Over the past two years we have been asked to participate with our inter-professional colleagues in the development of national guidelines addressing, for example, the allocation of blood in the event of a critical shortage and with the Deceased Donation Advisory Panel that is working on common problems in organ donation across Canada. In addition, we have been contacted by researchers seeking CACCN’s involvement in research studies pertaining to critical care. Examples include the PEPup study, through which an educational tool was developed to successfully implement a new nutrition protocol, and aC3Ktion Net, which seeks to improve the implementation of evidence-informed best practices in critical care. Most recently we have been asked to participate in the OVATION program, which addresses the effects of different blood pressure targets when administering vasopressors in critically ill patients. We look forward to keeping you informed of the evidence that comes from these projects so that you can translate this information into your clinical practice.
This past November, Karen Dryden-Palmer and Marie Edwards, as representatives of the CACCN Board of Directors, along with CACCN members Tereza Coughlin, Kim Bowman, Brenda Morgan, Linda Nusdorfer, Ruth Trinier and Kirk Dawe, met at the request of colleagues from other disciplines at CCCF to begin the process of developing Canadian Guidelines for Withdrawal of Life-sustaining Care. We would like to thank these members for their contribution to this important document. This group will continue its work and will keep our members informed of progress along the way.
CACCN was also involved in the Canadian Association of Pediatric Health Centre / Accreditation Canada Interfacility Transport Symposium, which is developing a document recommending Emergency Medical Services Standards for the transport of critically ill maternal, neonatal and pediatric patients. Kate Mahon and Ruth Trinier are the CACCN members representing critical care pediatric nurses. They have completed the first draft of the document and will be continuing with this work. Look for more information about this document on the website. It is clear we have achieved much success and are proactively speaking with conviction about matters of national concern to critical care patients, families and providers.
My personal journey with CACCN began with my first Dynamics conference many years ago. Since then I have attended this flagship gathering over my long career as a critical care nurse. Aside from the excellent educational sessions Dynamics has to offer, the greatest benefit I have received from attending has been the opportunity to network with other critical care nurses from across the country who share a passion for our work. During my term as president I was able to connect with many of you and through this interaction my passion for critical care nursing was rejuvenated. So, if I were asked to describe the benefit of belonging to a professional organization, I would have to say it is the opportunity to rejuvenate one’s passion for critical care nursing.
How have I have stayed in critical care for so many years and how have I maintained a healthy, productive approach to such demanding work? The key, for me at least, is that I have realized that every national conference or chapter workshop has infused me with excitement about critical care nursing all over again. It is this fuelling of my passion for critical care nursing that has allowed me to stay in this specialty for my entire career as a nurse. I still find it exciting to work in critical care and truly can say that I love being a critical care nurse. By attending CACCN events I am able to network with a community of critical care nurses passionate about critical care.
When I attended my first Dynamics in the 1980s I would never have dreamed that one day I would be president of CACCN and leading the foremost professional critical care nursing association in Canada. It has been hugely rewarding and a privilege to lead CACCN. It was through Dynamics and being an active member of CACCN that I found many of the mentors in my career, mentors not only for clinical knowledge, but for leadership and professional growth, as well. Each one of these mentors has helped me to grow and to develop as a critical care nurse. I am so thankful that they shared their expertise and experiences so freely with me throughout my career. They have helped me grow both personally and professionally and I hope that it has made me not only a better nurse, but a better leader, as well.
As I finish my term, I reflect on how privileged I have been to work with such a dedicated and committed board of directors. Although they are volunteers I have been awed by their dedication and the amount of time they have devoted to CACCN and, in turn, to critical care nursing in Canada. I would like to take a moment to thank them publicly for the phenomenal work that they have done on your behalf for CACCN. Each of them has helped to improve and raise the profile of CACCN by truly living the president’s theme,Speak with Conviction.
CACCN is supported and run by volunteers from across Canada, whether it be as members of planning committees for Dynamics, as writers of position statements, as members of the journal editorial board, or as executives of local chapters. Without these volunteers we would not be able to operate or be the voice of critical care nursing in Canada. I would like to thank all our volunteers for their dedication and passion for critical care and the work that they have done for CACCN.
Last, but not least, I would like to thank Christine Halfkenny-Zellas. As our chief operating officer she is the only full-time employee of CACCN. Without her support the board, chapters, and volunteers would not be able to complete the work of CACCN. For me, personally, as president, I know that I would not have been effective without her assistance, so I must thank her for all her support. It has made my term as president rewarding.
As I leave this position I know that CACCN’s incoming president, Karen Dryden-Palmer, will continue to lead and strengthen CACCN during her presidency. Look for the announcement of her president’s theme in the next Critical Thinking column and her president’s blog on the website.
Take care and Speak with Conviction.