09 May 2013

A quick visit to Rome

ROME—Frequent visits to Italy make me appreciate my proximity to continental Europe. Running along the banks of the Tiber at 6:30 a.m., with Rome waking up around me and the sun already burning the top of my head—much less protected by hair than it used to be—is one of the most memorable things I have done this year. Rome is beautiful. It certainly represents no hardship to visit these visually stunning and deeply historic places, so easily accessible from the United Kingdom.

I am here at the invitation of Gennaro Rocco, president of Ipasvi (Nursing Board of Rome) to deliver a paper, “The ethics of publication,” at the Ministero della Salute (Italian Ministry of Health). Rocco is the epitome of Italian style, manners, and leadership. He has been elected to his presidency for more than a decade, and his vision and drive have helped Ipasvi establish a Centre of Excellence for Nursing Culture and Research.

My role at the Centre of Excellence, along with other international advisers, has been to provide advice on academic publishing with a view to helping Ipasvi develop the first Italian academic nursing journal. Once again, I have been reflecting on why I am here and why I should be so lucky to visit the capitals of the world, to work with the cream of international nursing, and to do so at no expense to me or my university. Another chance encounter, the subject of a recent post, played a part.

In 2004, I co-organised a symposium on quantitative methods in nursing research at the annual International Research Conference of the Royal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom. The symposium was well attended and very well evaluated. However, the most important outcome for me was my first meeting with Alvisa Palese. Flamboyant, immaculate, and affectionate—in a word, Italian—she enthused about the session, and I have been in contact with her ever since. She is now my PhD student at Hull. This contact led to a regular series of workshops delivered to Italian postgraduate nursing students in Trieste and Genoa. These students are pioneers, especially the doctoral students, as doctoral-level education for nurses is a fairly recent development in Italy.

This has been a very short visit, but one worth reporting on, as I think that the Centre of Excellence for Nursing Culture and Research is going to become a major force for nursing change in Italy. There is such a centre in Spain, which is similar to, though slightly ahead of, Italy in development of nursing education, but I know of no other centres like this anywhere in the world.

What struck my U.K. colleagues and me most was the integration and common purpose amongst nurses engaged in professional regulation, clinical practice and education. I have also witnessed this in the United States and Australia. Sadly, in the United Kingdom, there is a void between clinical practice and academia, and our regulatory body is not especially proactive in developing the profession. We were there to advise, based on our experience, but we would give a great deal to have a Gennaro Rocco in our midst, and I envisage a day, not too far away, when senior Italian nurses are advising us in the United Kingdom. Moreover, I welcome that day.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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