Currently Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing and board member of the Association of Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions and the Heart Failure Association, Prof. Jaarsma has over 400 publications to her name. “My inspiration has always been to improve patient care,” said Prof. Jaarsma. Her interest in research began in the late 1980s. “I noticed that many of the patients with HF we were treating in our ward were repeatedly readmitted. Wondering what we could do better for them triggered my hunger to do research.”
She regards one of her main career achievements to be the contribution she and her colleagues have made to providing evidence-based nursing care for HF patients. “Evidence-based research has been central to medicine for a long time, but it is something rather new to cardiology nursing, particularly in Europe. Just like with medicines and devices, it is crucial to know if nurses’ interventions improve the outcomes of patients,” she said. In this respect, she is especially proud of her work as Principal Investigator on the randomised COACH1 and Wii-HF2 trials.
As someone who has campaigned tirelessly to achieve acknowledgement for nurses as equal members of cardiac care teams, Prof. Jaarsma is the ideal choice to present the inaugural Florence Nightingale Lecture. “I am absolutely honoured and excited to have been selected,” she said. “The prominence of this lecture at the ESC Congress is recognition of the important role cardiac nurses play in partnership with other disciplines.”
The title of her lecture – Modern technology to improve patient care – reflects her belief that nurses need to make technology work for them and their patients. “Nurses do a lot to help patients understand how they can take responsibility for their own care,” said Prof. Jaarsma. “Technology is giving us better and faster ways to do this. We have moved on from the days when patients were sent them home with nothing more than an information leaflet. Current technologies can be used in a wide range of ways, such as electronic medication reminders, tailored exercise programmes and the monitoring of signs and symptoms. Nurses have historically been cautious about adopting new patient-directed technologies. However, our patients are often ahead of us in this area and we must work with them to make sure we understand how these tools can improve their self-care. The current COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for us to become comfortable with technologies that can be used by patients remotely from the hospital or clinic.”
Prof. Jaarsma thinks that the immediate challenges in cardiovascular nursing are to embrace new technologies, continually question current practices and to stay updated with new knowledge. Looking to the future, she cautions that the rapid pace of technology necessitates a move away from randomised clinical trials as the ultimate study design and calls for flexibility and innovation in finding new ways to approach research.