Heroes at the Bedside or Organizational Experts?

A Panel Discussion on the Changing Role of Nurses in Healthcare


Panel presentation1       

Making visible the organising work of nurses:  Oppertunities & challanges for research and practice.

Focus on organizing work as a central concept in nursing care, and how this focus on organizations and organizing on the one hand enriches our understanding of what nursing work is about and adds to quality of the healthcare system, but also how nurses increasingly experience the burden of organizational tasks, pushing them away from direct patient care.

 Panel presentation 2

Knowledge infrastructures are key to professional work. In nursing, nurses have long relied on ‘learning by doing’, focusing on the practical issues of the work. In the past two decades, evidence-based practice – following the evidence-based medicine trend of the medical profession– has become key to good nursing work, next to a focus on nurse leadership. Although both concepts and goals are used and encouraged simultaneously, in practice they lead to conflicts about (expectations of) dealing with (un)certainties. How have the concepts of evidence-based practice and nurse leadership developed, and how do they impact on the challenges ahead?

 Panel presentation 3

Growing workforce shortages and increased work pressure among nurses force healthcare organizations and healthcare professionals on the shopfloor to make decisions about what kind of treatment is provided to whom and what treatment is denied, refused, or postponed. In everyday healthcare provision and decision-making, nurses are implicated in this micro-politics of rationing of care at the bedside, yet this problem is hardly addressed in public discourse nor in extant nursing studies. Also, nurses often lack the professional ethical repertoires, accountability mechanisms and professional space to make such issues visible. Voice, as way of representing nurses at the level of micro to macro decision-making and hence having an organizational and political say is important to influence practices of caring. Yet, how such voice can be wielded, used, and will be heard is still quite unfamiliar to the profession. Nurses and registered nurse assistants experience troubles in representing their profession in public space or feel not well-represented, leading to work dissatisfaction and even loss of voice.


Iris Wallenburg,Davina Allen, Martijn Felder, Roland Bal, Syb Kuijper, Helle Krone-Hjertstrøm, Aud Obstfelder, Charlotte Croft, Marieke van Wieringen, Charmaine Springer


Helle Krone-Hjertstrøm