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RCN forum members do more than discuss their specialty – they can help shape it

A new competency framework is a big step for the rheumatology nursing forum and the specialty

A new competency framework is a big step for the rheumatology nursing forum and the specialty

The RCN has more than 40 nursing forums and networks , yet some nurses may not know what they do.

These specialist groups cover the full range of nursing work and experience, from forums dedicated to older peoples care, critical care, community care and nursing management and leadership to fertility nursing and six childrens nursing groups that cover different aspects of the specialty.

Forums strengthen the RCNs professional voice

As a member of the RCN rheumatology nursing forum , Id like to share what we do and how our work and commitment strengthens the RCNs professional voice.

The rheumatology nursing forum is the largest professional group for nurses working in rheumatology, an area that covers more than 200

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A new competency framework is a big step for the rheumatology nursing forum and the specialty


Picture: iStock

The RCN has more than 40 nursing forums and networks, yet some nurses may not know what they do.

These specialist groups cover the full range of nursing work and experience, from forums dedicated to older people’s care, critical care, community care and nursing management and leadership to fertility nursing and six children’s nursing groups that cover different aspects of the specialty.

Forums strengthen the RCN’s professional voice

As a member of the RCN rheumatology nursing forum, I’d like to share what we do and how our work and commitment strengthens the RCN’s professional voice.

The rheumatology nursing forum is the largest professional group for nurses working in rheumatology, an area that covers more than 200 disorders affecting joints, bones, muscles and soft tissue. Our forum committee is a group of seven volunteers, all working clinically in rheumatology.

Each member of the committee is responsible for a specific area, for example, communication through social media with members. We have active RCN rheumatology Facebook and Twitter pages, which we use to share relevant documents, ask questions and support one another.

Through our yearly strategy day and regular teleconference meetings, the forum develops an annual plan of work, which includes producing and disseminating relevant, timely documents. We are held to account on this through liaison with our own supportive RCN professional lead Dawne Garrett.

Being on the committee is a rewarding and enjoyable role that has offered me opportunities such as representing the group at the Houses of Parliament and at charity meetings. It also allows members to network with like-minded people who often become lifelong friends.

Bringing members together through rheumatology workshops and guidance

Our committee has had a busy few years. We have produced two guidance documents on treatments for inflammatory arthritis, organised annual rheumatology workshops for our members, as well as group sessions, talks and networking events. More recently, we have been working on a competency document for rheumatology nurses.

A survey we carried out in 2009 that found a lack of clarity on rheumatology nurse specialist roles, and that evidence was needed to outline which aspects of the role are essential in different care settings.

We also knew that the skills and competences of rheumatology nurses should be benchmarked against other roles to provide a template for peer evaluation.

This should ensure high-quality nursing care is identified, valued and maintained for the care of people with long-term conditions. More than ten years on, these factors are all still relevant.

How we created a rheumatology nursing framework

Led by working party group chair and consultant rheumatology nurse Diana Finney, we set out to design a document that defined the standard of care expected of nurses at different levels, detailing the breadth of knowledge and skills required in the specialty.

The road from defining the need for the document to its completion has been intense and challenging at times. Forum committee discussion first began more than three years ago.

Monthly teleconferences, face-to-face meetings and constant emails have taken place since then. Existing and new knowledge was gathered from a consensus of clinical expert and patient opinions, followed by several rounds of consensus discussions.

We published our new framework in March and it is a significant development for rheumatology nursing.

Help shape the future of your area of nursing

This competency is intended to act as a foundation for sustainability, based on a more robust education and role development strategy. It will strengthen rheumatology nursing and provide support in all four UK nations for recruitment, retention, sustainability, succession planning and benchmarking.

Furthermore, it can be used by nurses to support their continuing professional development, career development and help them gather evidence for revalidation.

Creating our framework was hard work but it will have a lasting impact on rheumatology nursing. Nurses who want to help shape the future of their area of nursing should consider joining their relevant forum and its committee.


Further information


Polly Livermore is clinical academic programme lead at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, and an RCN rheumatology nursing forum committee member

 

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