Last night Kelly and I went out for a delicious dinner with two of our close friends Anna and Deb.
All four of us have a long association with the emergency department. In fact the three girls all have 25 years plus1 experience in emergency nursing.
As the evening unfolded over wine and food, we started talking about this.
Twenty five years plus.
That is a hell of a heap of clinical acumen and experiential knowledge. A hell of a heap.
And as we talked, it became evident that sitting around the table was a representational microcosm of one of the most disappointing (dare I say disgraceful) pathways our profession has taken.
Nursing has few opportunities for promotion and recognition of senior expertise within the clinical setting.
How often have you watched senior (and I’m talking about years of experience here) nurses move on to non-clinical management positions, or drift off into non-nursing jobs where their specialised skills are snapped up, or just stagnate on the floor (feeling little respect from the system) with nowhere to go and little exploration of the stuff they might teach.
What we are sadly lacking is a health system that gives the nursing ‘elders’ opportunity, support and recognition to pass on their profession, their experiences, their corporate knowledge and their craft to the next generations.
This huge collective of nursing elders have so much to offer both the healthcare policy planning process in general and the future of nursing in particular.
As many of them are now approaching retirement the opportunity to pass on the craft will be lost forever.
Skills that could be used to improve quality healthcare delivery, departmental operations and mentor-ship of other nurses. Believe me, those skills are out there in many of these people. They should be consulted not insulted.
Such a waste.
Sitting around that table with its 100 collective years of gathered nursing knowledge, we noted that only two of us were now working in the emergency department and none of us were in positions of mentoring or consultancy.
The clock is ticking….
- I could tell you exactly how long, but they would kill me [↩]