Throughout my career I served on many hospital committees. They included the Environment of Care, Capital Budget, Employee Relations, Operating Room, Research and many others. The most important to me however, was the Nursing Practice Committee. Although they may be called by different names, every hospital has one. Its primary purpose is to develop and maintain standards of care for the nursing department. Membership normally includes nursing representatives from every area of the hospital that provides patient care. It may also include home health, hospice, and other ancillary services when applicable.
At my hospital, most of the committee members had advanced degrees in nursing or were clinical nurse specialists. I was continually impressed by their knowledge and intense dedication to their profession. Attending these meetings gave me a clearer understanding of the problems nurses faced in their efforts to always provide the best possible care. It gave me a deeper respect for the profession in general
My role as the clinical engineer on the committee was to serve as a technical advisor or consultant. The committee looked to me to provide research and recommend biomedical devices that might assist in improving patient care. Also, if the hospital was experiencing a unique set of problems, I might be called upon to determine if there were products that might provide a solution. An example was finding the best device to assist nurses in preventing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in children. In order to recommend the best products, I first had to learn more about DVT and its causes. I then investigated existing products and their effectiveness. Also, I researched any new devices that may be in manufacturer’s pipelines. I would present my findings at the next committee meeting. If the committee felt that any of the devices I presented would be useful, I would make arrangements with manufacturers for a demonstration and, if required, set up a trial evaluation.
This committee was important to me for a number of reasons. It kept me informed of changes in my hospital at the patient care level where I could be of service. It forced me to stay abreast of new technologies and products that might be applicable to our needs. Since I was responsible for introducing new products and setting up demonstrations and evaluations, manufacturers began coming to me to discuss their new devices and developments. This role enabled nurses to understand that as technical advisors, we could assist in improving clinical practice. When physicians learned of the role we played, they also began calling on us for product advice and assistance.
If you are looking for a way to expand your role within your hospital, I highly recommend that you ask to become a technical advisor to your Nursing Practice Committee. You have knowledge that may be very useful. If you do this however, it is important to accept this role as a technical advisor to nursing and not as a representative of your Biomedical Engineering Department. All of your recommendations must be thoroughly objective without regard to the impact on your department.
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