March 27, 2006
in response to letter by Alice J. Cockerel on Vigilance: The Essence of Nursing by Geralyn Meyer, PhD, RN; Mary Ann Lavin, ScD, RN, FAAN (June 23, 2005)
We are pleased that our concept of vigilance as the essence of nursing rings true with someone who has practiced nursing for more than two decades. The writer’s experience of continuing to monitor a patient because of a feeling that something is "just not right" is familiar to many nurses. We also agree that vigilance becomes second nature to a nurse. The continual scanning of the environment for cues is something that nurses do routinely and is often difficult to express in words. But putting a name on that vigilance and being able to record it and communicate it to other health care providers and to health care payers is of paramount importance to our profession. We can not allow the vigilance that is so much a part of what nurses do to remain unnamed and, therefore, invisible to those outside our profession. Developing and using standardized language for surveillance diagnoses will allow us to communicate our vigilance in, and across, practice settings and to study it via the research process.
Mary Ann Lavin