Carol Carotenuti, RN, MSN/Ed, VN, Director of Nursing at Concordes campus in San Bernardino, Calif., recently attended a big nurses' symposium in nearby Santa Barbara, and there was one overriding theme to the event.
Health caregivers, particularly those in the nursing profession, are by definition caregivers, yet they seldom take care of themselves.
The South Central Coast Regional Consortium Nursing Symposium in Santa Barbara, Calif. was all about nurses taking a day or two to take care of themselves. As a professional development conference, the purpose was to provide nurses of all kinds of information and inspiration to take back to their professions and improve upon their practices.
Receiving inspiration as well as information
Carotenuti said a highlight of the symposium for her was spending a day listening and learning from Jean Watson, Ph.D., a renowned theorist, and scholar who spoke eloquently about her "Theory of Human Caring," which she developed in the 1970s while teaching nursing at the University of Colorado. Carotenuti said Watson spoke about nursing as it exists today and how it's perceived as both a discipline and a profession. It takes 100 years for a profession to mature as a distinct profession, Watson said, and that only occurred for nursing in 2010, based on the year Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, died, in 1910.
"I had never heard (Watson) speak, but she was just fabulous," Carotenuti said. "Florence represented healing, wholeness and caring, and she was considered a mystic and visionary nurse."
"A nursing professional is guided by her core values of continuous education, intellect, moral activity, and common sense. There are 19 million nurses today in the world, and Jean Watson and other theorists feel our world today needs new footprints in the sand for nursing."
She said she attended a discussion on Saturday that dealt with caregivers guarding against burnout and sustaining compassion.
"Nursing and health care providers are vulnerable to burnout, and many times we're not aware of this," Carotenuti said.
Other nursing resources
There are many resources online and elsewhere for those in the nursing profession to gain professional development.
In fact, there's the Association for Nursing Professional Development. Its website contains a ton of valuable resources, including information about upcoming events, member resources such as publications, discussion forums, and career center, as well as educational material ranging from webinars to help with certification preparation.
The American Nurses Association has a Continuing Professional Development portal on its website that contains a continuing education catalog, calendar of upcoming webinars and conferences, a portal to apply or renew certifications and academic student placement services.
Wherever you look, opportunities for professional development for the nurse profession are as vast as the field itself.
"I feel that we must take care of ourselves first before we can take care of others," Carotenuti said. "We need to keep going and rejuvenate our minds and hearts for the best of our students and any patients' families we take care of."