Nurses just want to be nurses again: ANA leader

In most cases, "just a nurse" isn't a welcomed phrase. But quite literally, today's nurses want to get back to a place where they can actually focus on being nurses and providing patient care instead of being an "organizational sponge" that absorbs what often seems like an infinite number of tasks, Katie Boston-Leary, PhD, RN, wrote in an Aug. 3 opinion piece published in

Dr. Boston-Leary is the director of nursing programs at the American Nurses Association and an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore. Technology and the re-introduction of resource nurses, or the "extra pair of hand" roles, she writes, are two critical ways to better support nurses with responsibilities such as medication preparation, cleaning rooms, restocking and many others.

She cited studies indicating there could be a 10 percent net time reduction in a typical shift if nurses were able to delegate these types of tasks. Even though nurses and their leaders alike recognize the value of supportive nursing roles, they're often the first to get eliminated "because they seem costly and are not included in productive time," she said. 

But when it comes to redesigning care delivery models, any that don't integrate technology and supportive nursing roles won't succeed in addressing nurses' core concerns of feeling overburdened with work that takes them away from patient care, she argues. 

"All nurses are asking at this point is that they want to practice nursing and not be the 'organizational sponge' that absorbs all other tasks that other professionals will not, can not or are unavailable to complete," Dr. Boston-Leary wrote. "In other words, can nurses just be nurses today and everyday? This is how we start to rebuild and reform work environments that are healthy — where nurses and patients will thrive and flourish."

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