20 July 2016

Evidence in support of baccalaureate nurses stacks up

HONG KONG, SAR, China—Less than a week after leaving Hong Kong, I was back, this time for a few days with my son—his first visit to Hong Kong—on the way to Australia. It is easy to make an impression on people with Hong Kong: the world’s highest bar (the 118th floor Ozone), possibly the best high-level restaurant in the world (the incomparable Felix restaurant), and searing hot temperatures.

The Conversation
One of the best things to come out of Australia in recent years is The Conversation. This is an online newspaper for which only academics may write. Supported financially by CommBank and most universities, The Conversation now exists in three other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. The articles take the form of short, blog-like entries, and individuals have to “pitch” pieces to the editors. After several failed efforts at pitching, I finally had one accepted on the basis of a study that I co-authored, which was published in Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Even for an experienced writer and editor, it was an instructive process. Once the pitch was accepted, I was given very specific instructions on how to write the piece and was given 48 hours to produce 700 words. The house style aims for the reading level of a 16-year-old with short sentences, no polysyllabic words (i.e. no “big” ones—sorry, couldn’t resist that), main points presented in the opening, and not ending with “More research is needed.” I am tempted to introduce the same style for Journal of Advanced Nursing. It works!

My article was titled “You’re more likely to survive hospital if your nurse has a degree.” The study was led by Richard Gray, PhD, RN, of the Hamad Medical Corporation in Doha, Qatar. Evidence that baccalaureate nurses save more lives is already available from the work of Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, FRCN, FAAN, of the University of Pennsylvania and the RN4CAST study, and our study takes this work forward.

In Qatar, each incident of nursing care is recorded electronically, which means the nurse’s name is recorded. From that, we were able to see whether the nurse is a baccalaureate graduate. We were then able to calculate the extent to which patients received care from baccalaureate—as opposed to diplomate—nurses. The results show that when baccalaureate nurses deliver care, patients are less likely to die. As I write, less than two weeks after publication, my article has had more than 9,000 reads, and its Altmetrics score is currently 70.

Meantime, in Australia
I am making my annual visit to Western Sydney University (until recently called University of Western Sydney) as adjunct professor and also visiting my relatives in Brisbane. My son Joseph is here with me, and my daughter Lucy, an RN in the British Army, has also been here for a few weeks. We had a good family reunion.

Looking ahead to travel plans for the rest of the year, I see that Turkey is on my calendar for December. I have been invited to speak at a conference, and my wife will accompany me for our wedding anniversary. For that reason and because I have friends and colleagues in Turkey, I hope events following the failed military coup have settled down. I have been in contact with a very good nursing colleague who says they are all “stressed and depressed” at the present situation. Once again, I find that problems in another part of the world help put my own problems into perspective.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. Comments are moderated. Those that promote products or services will not be posted.

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