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Stephanie Aiken: How the RCN's Celebrating Nursing Practice initiative showcases everyday innovations

Nurses already know how to improve care but too often their good ideas don’t get the attention they deserve. The RCN is helping nurses demonstrate and promote the difference they make

Nurses already know how to improve care but too often their good ideas don’t get the attention they deserve. The RCN is helping nurses demonstrate and promote the difference they make.


Picture: iStock

In nursing we are often not good at promoting what we do and how we make a difference in the lives of those we care for. We need to reflect on why this is so. Is it because we don’t recognise that our ideas and interventions are novel, we are too busy to share them more widely, or too modest to promote innovations?

Sometimes it may be a lack of confidence in presenting what we are doing to a wider audience or not knowing how best to disseminate our ideas.

In response to this, and as part of helping to raise the voice of nursing and highlight its contribution in our centenary year, the RCN has embarked on a project to encourage nurses to identify and share aspects of practice they have changed but that often go under the radar. The RCN Foundation, part of the RCN group, has funded the project.

Support from mentors

In phase one the project paired participants with experienced mentors, selected from the RCN membership, staff and RCN fellows.

Participants were asked to develop their initiative or innovation and report back to the RCN on what they were seeking to achieve, why the innovation was needed, how much progress they had been able to make and what effect it was having on patient care.

They were also asked how they could implement good practice more widely and how they might demonstrate its benefits if funding was available.

Insight into new approaches

The initiatives offer an insight into how nursing is innovating approaches to managing and delivering care across a range of healthcare settings, in both NHS and non-NHS organisations.

Mentoring relationships have offered opportunities for collaboration to help individuals to develop and articulate their ideas, as well as disseminating them to a wider audience.

The Celebrating Nursing Practice project has also contributed to conversations about how we can demonstrate the value and impact of nursing, which is something we often struggle with as a profession. For this reason, participants whose initiatives are taken forward into phase two will be offered the opportunity to undertake the RCN demonstrating value masterclass, which focuses on an economic assessment.

Showcasing completed projects

Three or four of these projects will be taken forward this year, with the participants being offered further development including training, mentorship and funding as part of phase two. This will enable the participants to increase impact and reach in their field.

The completed projects from phase one, whether or not they are selected for development, will be showcased as a suite of innovative project stories in a number of different ways, including in publications, an online platform, at RCN congress in Belfast and through the college’s library and heritage centre.

Celebrating Nursing Practice has confirmed that nurses can and do innovate in their practice, driven by the desire to improve the experience and health outcomes of those they care for. We need to get better at sharing and celebrating this, and the project is one way of achieving that.

What the RCN Foundation does

The RCN Foundation is an independent charity that supports nursing staff to improve the health of the public and offers financial support and career development opportunities to UK nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants and nursing students.

It funds nursing-led projects and has benevolent funds that provide financial help to past and present members of the nursing community. Bursary schemes support nursing staff in learning, development and research, while project grants are awarded to nurse-led work.


Stephanie Aiken is deputy director of nursing, Royal College of Nursing

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