Our specialty is unique in its professional inter-dependency

HeatherHeather McClelland has worked in Emergency Care for over 20 years, currently in post as Nurse Consultant in Calderdale & Huddersfield Foundation Trust. She works clinically across two Emergency Departments and is currently organisational lead for improvement projects on sepsis, deteriorating patient and the implementation of an electronic observations and handover system.

Heather recently stepped down as Editor of International Emergency Nursing after 10 years. IEN is a peer-reviewed journal publishing primary research, reviews and clinical practice papers from across the emergency care field.

She has also been privileged to work in sudden onset humanitarian disasters, completing deployments in China and the Philippines, where we work with multiple international agencies and local government to establish health care clinics.

In Sweden medical treatment and nursing are often seen as two separate entities, where nursing, and research about nursing, is a matter for nurses only. At SWEETs you will talk about emergency nursing. What is that and how is it relevant for all emergency care providers?

Nurses work across the spectrum of emergency care, from out-of-hospital systems to specialist and generalist emergency departments. Nursing and medicine have worked hand in hand in the advancement of the specialty across the globe. Sweden certainly lead the way in embedding nursing into out-of-hospital emergency care systems, to work with ambulance colleagues to enhance patient care in this early phase of treatment. They are establishing a strong evidence base for this level of ambulance care. Within emergency departments nurses have continued to push the boundaries of clinical care to improve patient experience, whether in the provision of analgesics or initiation of interventions within the assessment process, or in establishment of advanced practice roles to independently assess, treat, diagnose and discharge patients as Nurse Practitioners. Across the globe these practitioners are now seeing not only minor cases, but work across all areas in the ED to see any patient, alongside medical colleagues. Our specialty is unique in its professional inter-dependency – medicine and nursing rely strongly on one another, and other specialist colleagues and professions to deliver effective emergency care. There is a strong team ethos, which is not necessarily borne out in our education – often this is done separately, which undermines how we need to work in reality. As such, efforts to work together on education and research to jointly build our capacity and knowledge base is essential for the future of our emergency departments.

You have been the editor of the International Emergency Nursing Journal for ten years. Tell us about the journal and how it has developed during these years.

International Emergency Nursing was established in 1994 by Bob Wright, an emergency nurse and specialist in trauma counselling and sudden death. The journal aims to build the evidence base for emergency care, publishing primarily primary research and reviews. I took over from Bob as Editor in 2006, having sat on the Board for 5 years. In my time at the journal we have changed the title (from Accident & Emergency Nursing) to better reflect our author/reader base, quadrupled our paper submission rates and been added to Thomson Reuter list, receiving our Impact Factor. We have also established an associate editor role to lead on Pre-Hospital papers – this now accounts for a significant number of submissions every year. We have also worked with Elsevier conference team to establish a Bi-annual conference to bring together the international emergency care nursing community. Our first conference in Dublin was a huge success, which we hope will be repeated in Sitges, Spain, in Sept.

We believe that it is important for Swedish emergency nurses to get together and learn from each other and struggle to make that happen. Even fewer are involved at an international level. What do you think this international perspective can bring?

I agree, getting people together is very difficult, esp. where there is limited funding for education or conferences. Social media groups – Twitter or Facebook can be good to get collective conversations, but is really dependent on those involved. The conference in Dublin was the first time I saw a really international group of emergency care nurses/paramedics together discussing research, projects and service developments – something that is difficult to do virtually.