Feeling lucky and privileged…

…to be a registered nurse practicing in the United States of America.

Over a week ago,  along with other professionals from 35 countries,  I had the opportunity to attend the first World Congress on Vascular Access (WoCoVa) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.  The conference was well organized, packed with great speakers, lectures, and exhibits all going on at the same time, which made it challenging to be in two places at one time. 🙂

It was reassuring to know that despite the physical boundaries and language differences, we all have similar concerns and issues related to our patients requiring vascular access. We all have issues with and concerned with the  prevention CR-BSI, and selecting the best vascular access for our patients using advanced technology for better patient outcomes while doing it cost effectively.

The one big difference I noted is the practice involvement of the registered nurse in the assessment and placement of venous access devices, PICC’s in particular. Except perhaps in the United Kingdom, registered nurses from other European countries are not placing PICCs for various reasons. Some of the many reasons given by a speaker (who is an RN from Italy) are:

  • “Nursing” is considered “ancillary” to medicine
  • Nursing boards do not allow nurses to do placement which is done by a physician
  • The nurses themselves do not want to take the responsibility or liabilty
  • Placement of venous access is not considered a nursing function.
  • Limited advanced education or training for nurses

Last fall, I was fortunate to attend another clinical conference in Berlin, Germany where I presented on the practical aspects of infusing  a biologic agent in a simulated infusion room.  Many of the physicians were appalled at the fact that we were talking about nurses providing the infusions. In most European countries,infusion therapy is considered “advanced” and only physicians are allowed to perform line placements and administer infusions.

We have come a long way. Often we forget how lucky and privileged we are to be registered nurses here in the USA and be allowed to perform functions that our nursing colleagues in Europe, and perhaps in many other countries are not able to do.  It is my hope that someday, they will fight for their rights and be allowed to practice infusion nursing, place lines and provide safe infusion care to their patients.

One thought on “Feeling lucky and privileged…

  1. Wow – this was quite an eye-opener! Can you imagine not doing infusions here in the United States??? We are very fortunate as nurses in this country.

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