Pain Management Nursing
Editorial: Changing our name: For pain management nursing
Paul Arnstein PhD, RN
Pain Management Nursing, 5(3), 95-96.
According to the International Council on Nursing, the alleviation of pain and suffering is one of the four core functions that all nurses world-wide perform (Fry, 1994). Historically, medical professionals have never really valued the importance of pain management, which was seen as a “mere signpost on the road to the main aim … not worthy of the attention of serious men, so this task was assigned to … nurses and physiotherapists” (Wall, 1999, p. 167). Decades ago, a few brave nurses refused to be silent while patients suffered, insisting that we must believe the patient’s report of pain, we must treat children undergoing open heart surgery (and other painful procedures) with analgesics, and pain must be managed more aggressively at the end of life and throughout life. From these seemingly humble beginnings, a growing cohort of nurses have echoed these sentiments, extended them, and have unified to turn the silence into a magnificent chorus that has changed the way pain is managed.
The American Society of Pain Management Nurses has played an important role in helping this cohort develop, unify, and define the specialty. The work and influence of this organization over the span of less than 15 years is truly impressive. From scrambling to plan and execute a successful conference on the topic, to developing an impressive and expanding array of high-quality products and services, we have come a long way. Now, on the threshold of certification in the specialty area of Pain Management Nursing through the American Nurse Credentialing Center, our work has been validated as vital to the discipline, with the expansion of interest in our specialty escalating at a pace that is nothing short of phenomenal.
In terms of an association’s developmental stage, we are considered to be in our adolescence. Similar to some young Olympiads, our position can be likened to a high-achieving adolescent with stellar accomplishments and a seemingly limitless potential. Recognizing this circumstance, it is natural to speculate: Where will this adolescent be in 4 years, 8 years, even 12 years from now? The leadership of our organization, combined with the 500 attendees of this year’s conference, did the type of introspection, forecasting, and goal-setting work needed to clarify our identity and maximize our future potential.
The results of these “identity formation” activities solidified our commitment to the vision of the founders and refined the organization’s mission to advance and promote optimal nursing care for people affected by pain with the overall purpose of promoting optimal pain management. Further, we envisioned a future of success and leadership that would be evident when, in retrospect, we could claim in 12 (or so) years that our pre-eminent voice and unparalleled resources catalyzed the integration of pain management nursing into all aspects of health care.
Our recent refinement, sharing, and validating of our mission, core values, and envisioned future of success has positioned us well to be proactive. Serving as guideposts, our four-to-eight-year goals refined at our national conference, include the following:
• All people will have access to health-care services that provide quality pain management care.
• Members will have instant, easy, and affordable access to current, clinically relevant, evidence-based information about pain control.
• The public will demonstrate self-advocacy skills essential to their pain care needs.
• Certified Pain Management Nurses will be respected, valued, and compensated for their expertise as an integrated and indispensable member of the health-care team.
Further introspection reaffirmed that we need to pursue these goals in a way that remains true to our core values:
• Leadership, being agents of change, wanting to share;
• Empowerment, supporting individuals respectfully;
• Quality, being committed to quality and clinical relevance;
• Integrity, being honest, transparent, and credible; and
• Responsiveness, remaining dedicated to members as our most cherished, valuable resource.
Some of these goals and values demand that we focus on the wants and needs of our constituent members, but this alone is insufficient to accomplish our mission. By extending our focus beyond our fewer than 2,000 members to more than 2 million nurses caring for patients with pain, the influence of our efforts to transfer knowledge, promote best-practices, and improve the way pain is managed has magnified exponentially.
For that reason, a landmark decision was made to change the association name from the “American Society of Pain Management Nurses” to the “American Society for Pain Management Nursing.” Unchanged is the acronym for our name (ASPMN), our commitment to our members, and our focus on improving the way that pain is managed. A slight shift in our focus that is central to promoting pain management nursing is disseminating the best available knowledge to the widest possible audience. This knowledge may include understanding the complexities of pain, implementing innovative and effective practice, removing barriers and promoting access to quality pain control, optimizing the safety and efficacy of pain relief interventions, and enhancing the quality of life for the greatest number of people affected by pain.
ASPMN’s cumulative successes to date have generated momentum, establishing a track record of success. I am honored and thankful to have this opportunity to work so closely with the leaders in pain management nursing during what is a defining moment in our specialty’s history. In order to sustain this momentum and expand our scope, we must understand and tap the breadth and depth of our collective knowledge, skills, compassion, creativity, and insights regarding the best way to treat different types of pain.
Combined, the enhanced understanding of the needs emerging in the field of pain management nursing in general, and the desires of members in particular, will facilitate our use of knowledge-based governance strategies to get needed products and services developed in an expedient manner. ASPMN must remain indispensably relevant to you in a constantly changing environment. To succeed, we need the continued input and support of our members and leaders in the field. This will help us expand the breadth and depth of the knowledge we are able to transfer to those who need it and help us prepare for anticipated needs in an uncertain future health-care environment.
The American Society for Pain Management Nursing believes that knowledge is powerful. The knowledge we have accumulated to date, if targeted and utilized as intended, has the power to transform suboptimal care into clinical success. Additionally, as an organization, ASPMN will seek out the most accurate, comprehensive, and reliable knowledge on a topic as the basis for decisions that need to be made regarding new endeavors pursued to achieve our established goals. Through accumulating and sharing knowledge, ASPMN will be in the best position to realize our future potential for having the preeminent voice and unparalleled resources capable of catalyzing the integration of pain management nursing into all aspects of health care.
Fry 1994 S.T. Fry, Ethics in nursing practice, International Council of Nurses, Geneva, Switzerland (1994).
Wall 1999 P.D. Wall, Pain the science of suffering, Weidenfeld & Nicolson Publishers, London (1999).