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Letter: Our representative groups are not truly representative

Fiona Kirkland

I am a diabetes specialist nurse (DSN) at Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, although I am based in the community. I left last year’s Journal of Diabetes Nursing conference feeling that our role required more local and regional definition so that others could understand its diversity, and the onus was on us to achieve this. This would enable us to develop further and to obtain the resources we so desperately need.

At this year’s conference, 140 delegates benefited from an update from the four working party groups:

  • Career pathways
  • Nurse prescribing
  • Availability of courses
  • Standards and accreditation of courses.

As each update was presented and then discussed further in workshops, it became clear that all of the issues were interlinked, and that all had the same missing piece. Once this piece is found then all of the immensely hard work already carried out by the Working Party will fall into place. Perhaps the National Service Framework will help us to ‘crack the code’ and find this piece.

Last year’s conference contained a lot of discussion about leadership qualities in diabetes nursing, but this was not followed up this year. The strength of a good leader is to know the qualities of their team members, so that when decisions arise that require those qualities, that resource can be tapped. Issues should not be attended to by the ‘leader’ every time in order — it may seem to some — to promote that person’s face. There were few new faces among the speakers at this year’s conference. Eileen Padmore earlier told us how, at a different diabetes nursing meeting, somebody had asked her if the audience was representative of DSNs, commenting that there was no one there that he/she recognised. To me this is a good thing; new ideas and fresh approaches come from different people. The more new faces present at conferences the more representative of our profession that group will be. Not everyone wants to be a leader, but all leaders should listen to, and represent, their group, not themselves.

Following the final debate, ‘Are there too many groups attempting to represent the needs of diabetes nurses?’ I and others felt concerned that we are not fully represented by either the RCN Diabetes Nursing Forum or the UK Association of DSNs. I feel that there is nothing wrong with having more than one representative group. Diversity meets more needs and can strengthen and support ideas. The groups should not be self-opinionated and interested only in their own importance. Two teams should be able to work together for the ultimate benefit of the person with diabetes, who may at times appear to be forgotten. I feel it is sad that such a discussion is necessary; and moreover, do not feel it should be given a priority as there is clearly more important work to be done.

I wish to thank the Journal of Diabetes Nursing for an excellent conference and hope that next year we will be able move on from these lingering destructive arguments. There is certainly a need for such a conference, as indicated on 4 February, to air opinions and inform on recent advances in our profession.

I am a diabetes specialist nurse (DSN) at Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, although I am based in the community. I left last year’s Journal of Diabetes Nursing conference feeling that our role required more local and regional definition so that others could understand its diversity, and the onus was on us to achieve this. This would enable us to develop further and to obtain the resources we so desperately need.

At this year’s conference, 140 delegates benefited from an update from the four working party groups:

  • Career pathways
  • Nurse prescribing
  • Availability of courses
  • Standards and accreditation of courses.

As each update was presented and then discussed further in workshops, it became clear that all of the issues were interlinked, and that all had the same missing piece. Once this piece is found then all of the immensely hard work already carried out by the Working Party will fall into place. Perhaps the National Service Framework will help us to ‘crack the code’ and find this piece.

Last year’s conference contained a lot of discussion about leadership qualities in diabetes nursing, but this was not followed up this year. The strength of a good leader is to know the qualities of their team members, so that when decisions arise that require those qualities, that resource can be tapped. Issues should not be attended to by the ‘leader’ every time in order — it may seem to some — to promote that person’s face. There were few new faces among the speakers at this year’s conference. Eileen Padmore earlier told us how, at a different diabetes nursing meeting, somebody had asked her if the audience was representative of DSNs, commenting that there was no one there that he/she recognised. To me this is a good thing; new ideas and fresh approaches come from different people. The more new faces present at conferences the more representative of our profession that group will be. Not everyone wants to be a leader, but all leaders should listen to, and represent, their group, not themselves.

Following the final debate, ‘Are there too many groups attempting to represent the needs of diabetes nurses?’ I and others felt concerned that we are not fully represented by either the RCN Diabetes Nursing Forum or the UK Association of DSNs. I feel that there is nothing wrong with having more than one representative group. Diversity meets more needs and can strengthen and support ideas. The groups should not be self-opinionated and interested only in their own importance. Two teams should be able to work together for the ultimate benefit of the person with diabetes, who may at times appear to be forgotten. I feel it is sad that such a discussion is necessary; and moreover, do not feel it should be given a priority as there is clearly more important work to be done.

I wish to thank the Journal of Diabetes Nursing for an excellent conference and hope that next year we will be able move on from these lingering destructive arguments. There is certainly a need for such a conference, as indicated on 4 February, to air opinions and inform on recent advances in our profession.

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