For more than a century, American Red Cross nurses have brought care and comfort to people in need. Whether directing Disaster Health Services while checking a client's blood pressure during Hurricane Isaac in Picayune, Mississippi in 2012, or teaching a young mother how to safely bathe her baby in Appalachia in 1914 with the Red Cross Town and Country Nursing Service, nurses have been leaders in delivering care throught the American Red Cross.
Nursing goals include strengthening community resiliency through carrying out the Red Cross mission and supporting an already strong Red Cross in their status as the #1 trusted profession in our nation.
To implement the modernization needed in the 21st Century, the American Red Cross National Nursing Committee developed a Blueprint that draws from the Institute of Medicine (the “IOM”) report: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. This report is the result of a two-year study by the IOM and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that examines the nursing profession and provides guidance to improve health care delivery in an ever-changing healthcare environment.
Three of the eight IOM Report recommendations are especially relevant to Red Cross nursing:
- Remove scope-of-practice barriers (i.e., nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training) - IOM Report Recommendation 1;
- Prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health (i.e., ensure that leadership positions are available to and filled by nurses) – IOM Report Recommendation 7; and
- Build an infrastructure for the collection and analysis of interprofessional health care workforce data (i.e., a collaborative effort to improve research and the collection and analysis of data on workforce requirements) - IOM Report Recommendation 8.
The specific recommendations for how nurses can be used more effectively can be found in The Future of Red Cross Nursing: A Blueprint for Action (along with Blueprint attachments). The review of its recommendations for the future makes it clear that the collective Red Cross health team, with its knowledge and skill, is needed to meet the organization’s goals of improving the service to individuals, families and communities. Nurse expertise includes clinical knowledge and skills as well as leadership, health policy, system improvement, research and evidence based practice knowledge. Examples of how nurses have been and are currently engaged in a variety of roles can be found in Nursing Matters Past and Present.
The current infrastructure for Red Cross Nursing is built on the foundation that nurse visionary, Jane Delano, laid over 100 years ago. Today, the Chief Nurse sets strategic goals that support health integration into Red Cross corporate and business line goals and represents the face of Red Cross nursing externally to the public and professional nursing organizations. The majority of Red Cross nurses and the Red Cross workforce are volunteers, so a volunteer National Chair of Nursing serves as a co-lead with the Chief Nurse. The National Nursing Committee, a strategic advisory and action oriented body, serves to represent Red Cross health efforts, guiding the organization’s leaders on the most effective way to engage nurses to accomplish the Red Cross mission and better serve our communities.
The Red Cross has a volunteer network of nursing leaders who lead the State Nurse Liaison (SNL) Network. This operational arm for Red Cross nursing function is charged with building a national network to revitalize and sustain Red Cross nursing, helping Red Cross chapters build health professional resources and capacity across all Red Cross business lines. Each state has a position for at least one Red Cross State Nurse Liaison leader who connects nurses with chapters across each of the business lines, e.g., Disaster, Service to the Armed Forces, Preparedness, Health and Safety, Biomedical and International. We are always looking for that nursing volunteer leader who would like to take action to visibly support their community, chapter and state in preparedness, response and recovery. For more information, contact the current SNL volunteer in your region.
Today’s nurses are building on a rich history of nursing leadership in the Red Cross. The Future of Red Cross Nursing: A Blueprint for Action has the Red Cross President and senior leadership support for a strong nursing future to yield a stronger Red Cross overall. We hope that it engages your support, as well.