How I Changed Nursing Specialties, Yet Kept it All Together
By: Janelle M. Zimmerman, RN, BA
Like many nurses, my career has spanned a variety of practice areas, from Med-Surg to Emergency to Long Term Care to Home Health, and even a brief stint as a substitute school nurse. In all those practice areas, knowing the scope and standards of my practice was extremely important. Scope delineates what I can and can’t do, and standards of practice outlines the evidence-based how-to. Working night shift in the ED, we frequently consulted the policy handbook (which covered both scope and practice) to find out what we were allowed to do and how to do it as we faced unusual or difficult procedures with limited specialty staff in-house. When I walked into that school-nurse office to begin a temp position, I had no orientation. The first thing I did was to find the handbook and read the scope and standards for a substitute school nurse in that state, and for that school district. Then, when a child came in because she threw up in the classroom, I knew exactly what to do. No fumbling around trying to decide whether I’m allowed to give Pepto-Bismol™ or if I should send her right home.
The ANA Scope and Standards of Practice specialty series are affordable and comprehensive guides for all nurses. These are not the prescriptive type of guidelines that you will find in facility-specific policies but are conceptual guides that show you what it takes to succeed in a practice area. These books answer the “who?”, “what?”, “when?”, “where?”, “why?” kinds of questions that will guide you to think critically in your practice area.
This series is highly recommended for all nurses. Nurse educators who are responsible for continuing education will find these books particularly useful for planning and conceptual purposes. Education is most successful when you can help the learner connect it to the bigger picture; this series provides the bigger picture that you need.
Whether you are transitioning into a new clinical setting, providing education, filling a managerial position, or an experienced nurse who wants to review or improve your skills and knowledge, go grab the relevant title and put it to work. You’ll be glad you did.
Evaluating staff performance is often stressful and prone to causing hurt feelings. Nurse managers can be confident when providing evaluations derived from evidence-based expectations for practice. Instead of a subjective (and potentially biased) evaluation, using these standards can provide a fair and unbiased benchmark for excellence.
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