We must remain nurse-focused

The spectacular RCN international nursing research conference in Edinburgh last month saw more than 70 delegates from across the globe showcase their work. There were presentations on innovative research methods and methodology, many of which will be published in Nurse Researcher.

In the first keynote address, University of Edinburgh professorial fellow in nursing studies Pam Smith spoke about nursing at the extremes. She reinforced the importance of emotions in care and discussed the research into emotional labour in the provision of care. She also raised the issue of how university education of nurses has led to a perceived devaluation of caring in the nurse’s role.

Later that day Scotland’s chief nursing officer Fiona McQueen emphasised the importance of research to nursing, and challenged delegates to ‘keep publishing things that we don’t like to hear’ to broaden our thinking and improve patient care.

Swansea University emeritus professor of nursing Gary Rolfe opened day two with a provocative speech in which he warned that the academic nursing agenda is being driven by academic institutions and publishers who want to advance research excellence and enhance impact factors with little regard for clinical nursing. He referred to Heidegger’s observation that the ‘scholar’ has been replaced by the ‘research man’.

We should ensure that studies confront the real problems that nurses encounter, using creativity and imagination


Professor Rolfe urged delegates to think differently about the value of research to ensure that studies confront the real problems that nurses encounter, using creativity and imagination. Agreeing with his argument, Alison Tierney, professor of nursing research and head of the department of nursing studies at the University of Edinburgh, said we are drowning in publications but are struggling to ensure that our work remains practical and of benefit to nurses and our patients.


In the final keynote address Walter Sermeus, professor in healthcare management and programme director at Health Sciences Belgium, gave an overview of European funding opportunities. He spoke of the importance of putting together your dream team when forming collaborations to ensure that you have people you can trust and work with.


The conference closed with a robust debate about research being the solution to the global nursing workforce crisis. I look forward to continuing the dialogue started at the conference during 2016 and to the next RCN research conference to be held in Oxford in April next year.


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