AACN News—January 2000—Association News
Vol. 17, No. 1, JANUARY 2000
Staffing Statement Focuses on Patient Care Concerns|
The AACN Board of Directors has approved a statement regarding the effect nursing staff shortages and financial constraints can have on patient-focused care. The statement, titled “Maintaining Patient-Focused Care in an Environment of Nursing Staff Shortages and Financial Constraints,” was developed in response to concerns raised about the quality of patient care under current trends in allocating nursing staff.
AACN hopes that this statement will help facilitate communication and problem solving between those who allocate healthcare resources and those who deliver acute and critical care nursing care in the hospital setting. AACN believes that, by working together, a common ground can be found to resolve staffing issues and achieve the vital objective of optimal patient-focused care.
In developing the statement, AACN surveyed members regarding the staffing issues they face daily and reviewed the literature on best practices in nurse staffing.
According to the statement, the solution to nursing staff allocation problems should include a comprehensive strategic plan that links patient needs, cost delivery, competency of providers and staff mix with patient outcomes. However, because staffing should reflect the number and type of staff that meet a group of patients’ needs, expressing staffing numbers or patterns as a single acceptable national staffing ratio or mix would be difficult.
A successful resolution of this problem requires standards of practice that prescribe not only a competent level of nursing practice, but also standards of professional performance that articulate the roles and behaviors expected of nursing professionals. Meaningful and clearly articulated standards for acute and critical care nursing practice should provide the foundation for the minimum level of competent and professional care delivered to acute and critically ill patients across the lifespan and in a variety of settings.
In addition, the unpredictability of increasing patient acuity and the attendant need for increased staffing are key issues that contribute to insufficient nursing resources to meet patients’ needs in the critical care environment. For this reason, an appropriate staffing plan must provide for flexible resources that provide additional staff to meet the demands of sudden shifts in patients’ needs.
AACN is committed to the idea that the driving force behind staffing must be meeting patient and family needs in relation to the medical environment in which they are experiencing acute illness and being treated for it.
AACN encourages all its members to promote patient focused staffing by:
• Actively participating in identifying systems that assist in the delivery of care
• Developing collaborative solutions to staffing problems
• Incorporating legal and regulatory considerations in their planning
• Measuring the impact of care delivery
• Educating their peers, administrators and legislators by communicating this information
To obtain a copy of the “Maintaining Patient-Focused Care in an Environment of Nursing Staff Shortages and Financial Constraints” statement visit the AACN Web site at
www.aacn.org. Click on “Public Policy.” The statement is also available by calling AACN Fax on Demand at (800) AACN-FAX (222-6329). Request Document #2001.
Magazine Highlights Exhibit CEs
AACN Education Director Barbara Mayer and Exhibits and Sponsorship Director Randy Bauler were pictured on the cover of the December 2000 issue of Medical Meetings magazine, in connection with an article on AACN’s Exhibit CE program.
The success of the Exhibit CE program that AACN has offered since 1989 as part of its annual National Teaching Institute™ and Critical Care Exposition was featured as the cover story for the December 2000 issue of Medical Meetings magazine.
AACN is one of only a few associations that allows exhibiting companies to present accredited sessions in their booths. The article, headlined “Education, Not Infomercials,” focuses on how AACN has met the challenges of maintaining strict separation of product promotions and CE offerings to expand the number of contact hours available to nurses who attend the NTI.
With each 30-minute session providing 0.5 contact hours, NTI participants who take advantage of these sessions can add a maximum of 6 hours to their CE bank. Approximately 70 Exhibit CE sessions were offered at NTI 2000 in Orlando, Fla.
NTI 2001 is scheduled for May 19 through 24 in Anaheim, Calif. For more information about AACN’s Exhibit CE program, call Randy Bauler at (800) 394-5995, ext. 366.
Apply to Serve on a National Committee
The deadline to apply for national AACN and AACN Certification Corporation volunteer committees is March 1, 2001, for terms that begin July 1, 2001.
A range of opportunities, which can be tailored to accommodate individual interests and time constraints, are available. In addition to appointed positions with work groups, task forces and advisory teams, which may require travel, conference calls and work at home, roles are available for members to simply share their insight and expertise in specific areas. All expenses associated with these volunteer commitments are paid by AACN, according to AACN policy guidelines.
For more information, call (800) 394-5995, ext. 415, or visit the AACN Web site at
Work Group Focuses on Helping to Develop Influencing Skills
Pictured during a recent meeting of the
Leadership Development Work Group
are (from left, foreground) Bonnie Sakallaris,
Jessica Palmer, Suzette Cardin and Anne
Hawkins and (from left, back) Michael Williams,
Chris Breu and Barbara Mayer.
One way that AACN is responding to current workplace environments and difficulties is by creating strategies that will enhance the ability of critical care nurses to influence their work and care environment, as well as patient outcomes. The 2000-01 Leadership Development Workgroup (LDWG) has been charged with identifying these strategies.
The purpose of this group, which is in its second year, is not only to identify the skills members need to effectively influence their environments, but also to identify mechanisms members can use to attain these skills.
During its first year, the LDWG concentrated on identifying the influencing skills critical care nurses need. Among the skills that have been identified are those that can assist members with conflict resolution;
self-awareness and self-leadership; incremental change; and dialogue.
To help determine the needs in this area, the LDWG conducted a survey at AACN’s National Teaching Institute™ in Orlando, Fla., in May 2000. The survey, which was completed by approximately 800 nurses, indicated significant support for the skill areas that the group has identified. The LDWG is now focusing on developing mechanisms to attain these influencing skills.
Members of the LDWG are Chris Breu, RN, MN, CNAA, FAAN, and Bonnie Sakallaris, RN, MSN, CCRN (cochairs); Suzette Cardin, RN, DNSc, CNAA, FAAN, Anne LaVoice Hawkins, RN, MSN; Jessica P. Palmer, RN, MSN, and Michael L. Williams, RN, MSN, CCRN (board liaisons). Barbara Mayer, RN, MS, is the AACN staff liaison.
New Edition of Procedure Manual Now Available
The fourth edition of the AACN Procedure Manual for Critical Care is now available. This reference, edited by Debra J. Lynn-McHale, RN, MSN, CCRN, CS, and Karen K. Carlson, RN, MN, CCRN, combines the step-by-step instructions needed to perform critical care procedures.
Each procedure that is commonly performed by a critical care nurse is illustrated, with detailed instructions. Research-based data are provided for each procedure.
To order, call (800) 899-AACN (2226). Request Item #128150. The price is $66 for AACN members ($75 for nonmembers).
Wyeth-Ayerst Partners Pursue Clinical Leadership
Members of the 2000-01 AACN Wyeth-Ayerst Nursing Fellows Reporter Program class have begun their nine-month fellowship.
Sponsored by Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories in collaboration with AACN and the American Journal of Nursing, the program provides acute and critical care nurses with an opportunity to develop clinical leadership, including professional writing skills, under the guidance of an experienced nurse mentor. A total of 209 mentors and fellows have participated in the program since its inception in 1992.
Under the program, each fellow will complete an individualized project and develop a manuscript for inclusion in a cardiopulmonary supplement to the May 2001 issue of the American Journal of Nursing. The mentors and fellows will be honored at a convocation ceremony, reception and dinner at AACN's National Teaching Institute™ and Critical Care Exposition, May 19 through 24, 2001, in Anaheim, Calif.
Following are the members of the 2000-01 class of Wyeth-Ayerst fellows and mentors:
Kathleen Miller, RN, MSN, EdD, CS-ACNP Virginia Fidrocki Mason, RN, MSN, CS,CCRN
Sharon, Mass. Charlton City, Mass.
Patricia Carroll, RNC, MS, CEN, RRT Tracylain Evans, RN, MS, MPH, ACNP
Meriden, Conn. Norwalk, Conn.
Sarah Martin, RN, MSN, CCRN, PCCNP, CPNP Lorri Nielsen, RN, MSN, PCCNP, CPNP
Arlington Heights, Ill. Chicago, Ill.
Vickie Miracle, RN, EdD, CCRN, CCNS Cheryl Corish, RN, MSN, CS
Louisville, Ky. Bowling Green, Ky.
John Clochesy, RN, PhD, CS, SPNP, FAAN, FCCM Elizabeth Crooks, RN, MSN, CCRN, CS
Cleveland, Ohio Richmond Heights, Ohio
Susan Fowler, RN, PhD, CCRN, CNRN, CS Shawn McCabe, RNC, MSN, CCRN, CNS
Bound Brook, N.J. Belleville, N.J.
Sue Sendelbach, RN, MS Pamela Madrid, RN, MS, CCRN
St. Paul, Minn. Blaine, Minn.
Judy Trivits Verger, RN, MSN, CCRN, CRNP Melissa Lynn Hutchinson, RN, CCRN
Chadds Ford, Pa. St Bothell, Wash.
Hildy Schell, RN, MS, CCRN Ann Daleiden, RN, BA, AND
Burlingame, Calif. Danville, Calif.
Diane Byrum, RN, MSN ,CCRN, CCNS Cheryl Cummings, RN, MSN, CCRN, CCNS
Denver, Colo. Gastonia, NC
Both Partners Benefit in Wyeth-Ayerst Program
Mary Fran Tracy (right) shared her expertise
as a mentor with Dawn Wilson in the
Wyeth-Ayerst Nursing Fellows Reporter Program.
Editor’s note: Since 1992, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, in collaboration with AACN and the American Journal of Nursing (AJN), has sponsored the nine-month AACN Wyeth-Ayerst Nursing Fellows Reporter Program program, which partners nurse mentors and fellows in an opportunity to develop professional clinical leadership. In addition to writing an article for publication in an AJN supplement, each fellow has the opportunity to develop individual learning goals. Among the 10 partnerships selected for the 1999-2000 class were fellow Dawn Wilson, RN, MS, CS, and mentor Mary Fran Tracy, RN, PhD, CCRN, who are both clinical nurse specialists. The following article describes their experience as participants in the program.
By Dawn Wilson, RN, MS, CS
Overall, writing an article for publication was a wonderful experience, largely because of the support and assistance I received throughout the process from my mentor and from the guest AJN editor.
The deadlines were imposing, because we were notified we had been accepted into the program in late August 1999 and the first draft of the article was due in early January 2000. The final product would never have been completed by the May 2000 publication date without strict deadlines.
The title of our article was “CABG and the Elderly,” a broad topic about which much could be written. I initially became “buried” in the literature. However, my mentor provided guidance in focusing the direction the article should take. In reviewing several drafts, she provided many constructive suggestions for “tightening” the content.
My mentor also “brought me into the 21st century” by showing me how to make use of my new computer for writing, editing, disk storage and literature searches.
Because the first draft submitted significantly exceeded the requested 2,000 words, the AJN guest editor asked us to shorten the manuscript. Her comments and suggestions in editing enhanced the conciseness of the piece. However, she asked for our feedback on proposed changes to ensure that the intent of what we were trying to convey was not changed. We were proud not only of our accomplishment in completing the article, but also to see our names in print!
All the Wyeth-Ayerst fellows received complimentary transportation, accommodations and registration for AACN’s National Teaching Institute™ and Critical Care Exposition in May 2000 in Orlando, Fla. The mentors received complimentary NTI registration and a $500 stipend.
Being honored at a convocation, reception and dinner, which was attended by leaders from AACN, AJN and Wyeth-Ayerst, made us feel very special.
This entire experience has given me the confidence to believe that I can and should continue to publish.
By Mary Fran Tracy, RN, PhD, CCRN
I thought that mentoring a colleague through the publishing process would be similar to my previous mentoring experiences. However, mentoring a colleague through a specific project that had specific deadlines was unique for me.
As we began the project, I wondered if my knowledge of publishing was sufficient to be the mentor in this partnership. The thought of failing as a mentor was a bit daunting at times. In the end, working together through the project helped affirm for me how much I did know about the publishing process. In addition to relaying my own experiences with publishing, I was able to direct the fellow to available written resources that provided tips regarding writing for publication.
The partnership involved more than giving advice about how to write for publication. In fact, there were many teaching opportunities that were tangential to the actual writing. For example, teaching how to make maximum use of a computer’s word processing capacity helped simplify the process. I also had the opportunity to mentor the fellow in exploring the ever-advancing capabilities of the Internet to perform literature searches, which led to teaching skills related to collating the results into manageable and meaningful information.
The most important component to this partnering relationship was the collegial aspect. As a mentor, I provided encouragement to the fellow, allowing her to progress in ways that matched her needs and reaffirmed both her knowledge of the content and her instincts about what would work. The fellow was open in her communication of what worked best for her and what she was expecting from the experience, which made my mentoring role easier.
Seeing the article in print, the excitement of the recognition we received and the support of AACN, Wyeth-Ayerst and AJN made the experience extremely meaningful. Both of us learned and grew through the process. We highly recommend that our colleagues who are interested in learning to write for publication apply for this wonderful opportunity.
Mary Fran Tracy is a critical care clinical nurse specialist at Fairview-University Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minn. Dawn Wilson is a clinical nurse specialist at Minneapolis VA Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minn.
April 1, 2001, Is Deadline to Apply for Scholarships
Applications for the BSN Completion and Graduate Completion Educational Advancement Scholarships for 2001-02 must be postmarked by April 1, 2001.
These scholarships support AACN members who are registered nurses completing a baccalaureate or graduate degree program in nursing. Recipients receive $1,500 per academic year. At least 20% of the awards are allocated to qualified ethnic minority applicants.
The funds may be applied toward tuition, fees, books and supplies, as long as the recipient is continuously enrolled in a baccalaureate or graduate program accredited by National League for Nursing (NLN) or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Applicants for these scholarships must be RNs, be members of AACN and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. They must be currently working in critical care or have worked in critical care for at least one year in the last three years.
Applicants for the BSN Completion Scholarship must have junior or upper division status for the fall semester. Applicants for the Graduate Scholarship must be currently enrolled in a planned course of graduate study that leads to a master’s or doctoral degree.
The Eli Lilly Company has contributed $5,000 to fund and adminster three of these Educational Advancement Scholarships for critical care nurses to obtain bachelor of science in nursing degrees. Lilly is a member of AACN’s Partners with Industry corporate giving circle.
For more information about or to obtain an application for Educational Advance Scholarships, call (800) 899-AACN (2226), or visit the AACN Web site at
AACN also supports scholarship opportunities through the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA). These scholarships are available to nursing students who do not hold a RN license and who meet eligibility requirements. Applications must be received by NSNA no later than Feb. 1, 2001, to be considered.
To receive one of these scholarship applications, contact the National Student Nurses Association, 555 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019, or call (212) 581-2211.
Scholarships Help Pay Costs of Attending NTI
AACN members who are planning to attend AACN’s National Teaching Institute™ in May 2001 may qualify for scholarships to offset the expenses.
In addition to AACN Vision Partners continuing education scholarships, two other special NTI scholarship programs are available. The deadline to apply for these scholarships is Feb. 1, 2001. Recipients will be notified by April 1, 2001.
NTI 2001 is scheduled for May 19 through 24 in Anaheim, Calif. Following is information about the scholarship programs for the NTI:
Ten pairs of NTI participants will be awarded $1,000 each to share toward NTI expenses. One partner will be an AACN member, who will share the NTI experience and benefits of AACN membership with the other partner, a nonmember who has not previously attended the NTI. The nonmember also receives a one-year membership to AACN.
The nonmember partner should be able to share a different perspective with his or her partner, such as a different cultural or ethnic viewpoint or another discipline or clinical practice somewhere else along the continuum.
In their applications, the partners will be asked to express how they will benefit from the learning experience and networking at the NTI. They will also commit to continuing to develop the partnership after they return to their workplaces.
Dale Medical Products Scholarships
Dale Medical Products, Inc., supports three $1,500 continuing education scholarships for AACN members who are pursuing graduate education to further their careers in critical care nursing to attend the NTI or Advanced Practice Institute (API). The scholarships are to be used to offset the expenses of registration, travel and accommodations.
The Dale scholarship is directed specifically at assisting nurses who are striving to balance their professional life with family obligations. To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate that they need the scholarship assistance to attend the conference. Applicants are asked to describe how attending the NTI or API will assist them in reaching their professional goals.
Aventis Pharmaceuticals Scholarships
Again for 2001, Aventis Pharmaceuticals is contributing funds for 30 $1,000 scholarships for members nominated by their chapters to attend the NTI. To be eligible, recipients must have been in critical care for less than two years and have never attended the NTI.
For more information about these NTI scholarships or to receive an application, call (800) 899-AACN (2226) or visit the AACN Web site at
Annual Fund Contributions Support Scholarships for Nursing Education
AACN’s yearly drive to provide scholarships for critical care nurses is under way. Invitations to contribute have been mailed to past Annual Fund donors.
AACN scholarships help nurses at every step of their professional career, whether that be in completing a bachelor of science in nursing degree, pursuing a graduate degree or obtaining continuing education.
“There’s no way to escape the current nursing shortage,” said AACN President Denise Thornby, RN, MS, “The shortage compels us to help attract talented people into nursing. It also compels us to support our pool of talented nurses who are eager to expand their professional and academic education. AACN already has a head start.”
For 2001, AACN has earmarked $150,000 to assist up to 150 nurses to pursue education in the practice of critical care. The program began in 1983, when the AACN Board of Directors earmarked $10,000 for educational advancement scholarships. AACN is also the single largest scholarship contributor to the National Student Nurses Association.
The scholarships also support continuing education, including the Vision Partners program that pairs first-time National Teaching Institute™ participants with experienced NTI participants. And, in 2000, 30 nurses with less than two years of experience attended the NTI for the first time, thanks to support from Aventis Pharmaceuticals.
AACN Web Site to Get a Face Lift; Members-Only Offerings to Expand
AACN’s considerable online resources are about to become even better. At the end of January 2001, AACN Online will unveil a new look, an improved navigational structure and an expanded “members only” area. In addition to offering extensive AACN practice and education resources, the site will add free access to the GenRx medication database, as well as the Cinahl Direct literature search database.
The members only section will be open to all visitors for an introductory period through Feb. 28, 2001. However, starting March 1, 2001, access to this area will require a password. If you, as an AACN member, have not already registered for a password, plan to do so as soon as possible. The streamlined process is easy to complete online. You will receive your password within 24 hours.
If you are not a current member and would like to have access to these valuable online resources, you can join AACN online via the AACN Web site at
www.aacn.org, or by calling (800) 899-AACN (2226).
Census Data Helps Drive Resources
Data collected from the recent demographic census survey will be used to help AACN further develop programs, products and services to meet the needs of members.
The surveys, which also could be completed online, were sent to all AACN members in the summer of 2000. More than 32,000 members completed and returned the survey.
Following is a breakdown of some of the key member demographics gleaned from the survey:
Gender 92% female
Age 65% 40 or older
Licensure 98% RNs
Nursing experience 17.5 average years
of experience in nursing
Critical care experience 13.8 average years
practicing in critical care
Employment status 79% employed full time
Education 70% baccalaureate degree
Certification 69% CCRN certified
Position 66% staff nurse
Employment setting 49% community nonprofit hospital
13% community for profit
13% university medical center
Employment specialty 18% ICU/CCU
9% cardiovascular/surgical ICU
5% telemetry/step-down unit
As of Dec. 6, 2000, 280 recruiters had signed up 620 new members in AACN’s Member Get A Member campaign. The campaign, which began May 1, 2000, ended Dec. 31, 2000.
Leadership Lessons Learned: Mentoring Is a Lifelong Need
Editor’s note: Following is the third in a series of articles by members of the AACN Board of Directors on leadership lessons they have learned from their experiences.
By Debbie Brinker
RN, MS, CCNS, CCRN
We speak of mentoring in reference to nurses who are new to our profession and the importance of creating a supportive culture by mentoring in clinical and patient care skills. What about mentors in AACN? Have you sought out other members to help you gain leadership skills or to receive feedback regarding your role in your local chapter or national activities? Mentors have been invaluable to me not only within my clinical evolution, but also in my involvement with AACN. My most recent mentoring experience has been with my “board buddy,” who is helping me to navigate in my role as a “freshman” national AACN board member.
Although I felt experienced in my roles as a pediatric ICU clinical nurse specialist and as a chapter board member, becoming a national board member was outside my comfort zone. AACN President, Denise Thornby, RN, MS, quickly recognized my concern: “How am I going to make my optimal contribution when I don’t know what I’m doing?” She reassured me that the board has a formalized process to “launch” new board members, which includes written resources; defined norms and responsibilities; an overview of AACN and AACN Certification Corporation; orientation meetings; and pairing with a board buddy, or a mentor.
My board buddy, Lori Hendrickx, RN, EdD, CCRN, has assisted me in my transition to this new role. She and other board members have begun to formalize this mentoring process to make the role clear by determining when their new protégés should be contacted, what information should be shared before the board orientation meeting, the norms regarding the role and an evaluation process for the role. Having one person designated as my mentor, with the president, president-elect and other board members also available as additional resources, has been helpful.
Lori has not forgotten what being new to a role is like—to be experienced in nursing practice and various roles with AACN, but novice in the board of director role. She has provided me with background on program development and decisions, what to expect at board meetings and an understanding of group processes. Having board buddies seated next to each other at meetings helps in learning their perspectives on the discussion and dialogue or in asking questions.
In addition, board buddies often work together on projects, which helps the protégées gain experience and provide feedback regarding their leadership skills. Good communication skills must be a part of this relationship. Because most communication is done by phone or e-mail, this mentoring relationship is different from others where people work in the same geographic area.
Although all board members have ambassadorial and intellectual skills, as described in the AACN Leadership Framework, the board buddy assists new members in applying these skills in this new arena. The leadership lessons I have learned through the board buddy process have helped me in my practice. I have discovered that reversing roles and feeling unsure about how to apply my skills has been healthy. The process has also helped me to reacquaint myself with the needs of “new graduates” in our profession. For example, I have learned that communication norms need to be written and not assumed. In addition, I have worked with our pediatric leadership team to formalize our preceptor program and set up mentors for new staff members (the mentorship continues after orientation), and to create a residency program to help establish a culture for novice pediatric and pediatric ICU nurses where we do not “eat our young.”
Being a “novice” on the national AACN board has also helped me see the importance of mentoring in our local chapters. Merely saying “call me if you need help” is not adequate. Roles and norms must be written so that specific expectations of the mentor and protégé are clear. This is especially important in professional work groups, where everyone is a volunteer, and busy. When structure is given to roles, including mentors, and timelines are designated for projects, tasks are not as overwhelming. Lack of clarity in expectations and poorly defined mentor relationships cause dissatisfaction among our volunteers, leaving more work and frustration for a few. Because our chapter goal is to increase membership and commitment, we must make being involved “easier” and professionally rewarding.
I challenge you to seek out mentors who can help you set and attain your professional goals and who can help define the role of “practice buddies” in your workplace and “AACN buddies” in your local chapter. Reach out to students and mentor them regarding how they can contribute to the nursing profession and AACN. Be a mentor as well as a protégé. Although we receive much by sharing, we also need encouragement and support, so that we do not stagnate, but instead progress and thrive in our profession. Seek out mentors in AACN to help with your professional development. Formalize mentoring roles in your local chapter, including the process of orienting new members as to what they can bring to the chapter and AACN.
Mentoring is a professional responsibility that requires a high degree of commitment, involvement and energy. I have learned a lot from being a novice again—especially the importance of a mentoring culture. It is important for mentors to make waves, to “readily join hands with people to leap into the future, confident in their collective ability to navigate the rapids of change.”1
Debbie Brinker, RN, MS, CCNS, CCRN, is a pediatric ICU clinical nurse specialist at Deaconess Medical Center, Spokane, Wash.
1. Klein E., Dickenson-Hazard. The spirit of mentoring: reflections on nursing leadership. Sigma Theta Tau. 2000;3rd quarter:22.
Updating Education Standards Is Focus of Group’s Initiatives
Members of the 2000-01 Education Work Group are (from left
seated) Lori Hendrickx (board liaison) and Mary E. Holtschneide
(chair) and (from left, standing) Linda Schanne, AACN Educatio
Director Barbara Mayer (staff liaison), Barbara Monroe, Caryl
Goodyear-Bruch, Mary Fran Martin and Susan Yeager.
By Mary E. Holtschneider, RN, BSN, MPA
Chair, Education Work Group
Updating the “Education Standards for Critical Care Nursing” to reflect current practice and thinking is among the initiatives before the AACN Education Work Group (formerly the Professional Development Think Tank) for 2000-01.
Originally produced in 1986 and revised in 1992, the education standards document serves as a guide for critical care nurses who coordinate or instruct continuing education courses that critical care nurses attend. To be approved for continuing education credit, a course must follow established guidelines and standards. The “Education Standards for Critical Care Nursing” outlines optimal standards for administration of these courses, including the assessment of educational needs, planning, implementation and evaluation.
Relying on the varied backgrounds of the work group members, who include staff nurses, university-based educators and hospital-based educators, the group has made significant progress toward identifying current issues and trends that affect critical care nursing education today. Among these are the increased use of the Internet, as well as self-paced computer education programs. The group’s goal is to revise the “Education Standards for Critical Care Nursing” into a timely guide for all critical care nurses who are involved in the coordination and instruction of educational offerings, regardless of practice setting. The document is scheduled to be completed and available to members in 2001.
In addition to revising the education standards document, the Education Work Group is creating a quality assurance plan for evaluating AACN’s educational programs and resources and developing outcome measures for the educational agenda set by the 1999-2000 work group. Plans include conducting an educational issues survey of members at NTI 2001 in Anaheim, Calif.
Mary E. Holtschneider, RN, BSN, MPA, is a clinical nurse educator at Duke University Health System, Durham, N.C. In addition to chairing the AACN Education Work Group, she is a member of both the AACN Public Policy Work Group and the AACN Online Advisory Team.
Make Your Resume Work for You
Editor’s note: Following is the fourth in a series of articles by Career Development Services on ways AACN members can maximize their career strategies and build their portfolios.
By Rosemary Westra, RNC, MS
Manager, Continuing Education
and Career Development Services
In today’s healthcare environment, you never know when a special job opportunity might become available. Your resume can be a custom-designed, self-marketing tool to help prepare you for those inevitable times of change or opportunity.
Following are tips that can help you develop a resume that will work for you.
1. Review the job description.
Job applicants often write their resumes without first reviewing the job description. The result is a resume that fails to strongly highlight skills and experiences applicable to the job. Most employers don’t have the time or patience to search through a resume for the required qualifications. If your qualifications are not obvious, you may not get an interview.
If a formal job description is not available, contact the hiring manager to obtain a list of the required qualifications. If you can’t reach anyone, review job listings with similar titles for a group of core competencies.
2. Choose the best format.
There are two basic resume styles: chronological and functional.
A chronological resume is the most common. The chronological format, which organizes work history by date, is best for emphasizing experiences that directly apply to a particular position. Always present the job history in reverse chronological order, listing your most recent jobs first.
A functional resume emphasizes skills and achievements. Your skills and previous relevant experience, including education, are presented at the beginning of your resume. This will showcase your skills so the prospective employer can see how they relate to the position for which you are applying. For example, if the job description emphasizes strong management experience, consider dividing you resume into categories, such as “communication skills,” “budget development skills” and “negotiation skills.”
A third option is the combination resume, which incorporates the features of the chronological and functional formats to highlight selected jobs.
3. Present tangible results of your accomplishments.
Describe not only what you have accomplished, but also the results of your actions. Explain how often and how much. For example, if you teach a cross-training program in your unit, indicate how many times you taught the course, how long the course lasted and how many nurses you cross-trained in this role.
4. Keep information concise.
Resumes should be one page, but no more than two if absolutely necessary to describe relevant work experience. Because most potential employers face time demands, do not expect them to read through an unnecessarily long resume.
5. Appearance counts.
Make your resume attractive and easy to read. Use normal margins of one inch on the top and bottom and one-and-one-fourth inch on the sides. Avoid using graphics and unusual font styles; choose a font, such as Helvetica or Times Roman, to achieve a professional appearance. Use standard, nontextured, fine-grained paper in white or ivory. Keep in mind that, if the prospective employer will make copies to distribute to other people involved in the hiring process, textured or dark-colored paper may not reproduce well.
6. Eliminate personal or superfluous information.
Do not include personal characteristics, such as age, height and marital status. Legally, employers cannot solicit this type of information from you, and probably would be more comfortable if it was not part of your resume.
You can eliminate “references available upon request,” especially if more space is needed to describe your work experience. Most employers assume you have references they may contact, and will request them if needed.
7. Proof read your resume.
Typographical and grammatical errors are likely to have a negative influence on the individual reviewing your resume. A polished, error-free resume is important to a successful job search. Have someone else review your resume for clarity and errors before you submit it.
The nursing profession will continue to face challenges and, more importantly, great opportunities in a fast-changing healthcare environment. A well-developed resume will help you see what you have accomplished and prepare you for those opportunities that may unexpectedly present themselves.
Following are answers to questions that have been e-mailed to CDS.
QI plan to apply for a different job, and must first update my resume. Recently, one of my colleagues told me that she is updating her curriculum vitae (CV). What is the difference between a resume and a CV?
M.L., Grand Rapids, Mich.
AThe terms resume and CV are often used interchangeably. However, in general, a resume is a document that summarizes qualifications, education, experience, skills and other information related to an individual’s professional objectives. Nonacademic pursuits and civic or community activities may be included on a resume. A CV, which is often used within the academic community, includes degrees earned; teaching and research experience; publications; and presentations.
QI have volunteered at a local charity for underprivileged children for the past several years. Is this something that I should include on my resume?
C.M., Franklin, Mass.
AAbsolutely! Volunteer work tells a potential employer a lot about an individual and the valuable skills that may be developed during volunteer activities. Include activities, such as chairing a subcommittee or coordinating fundraising events, that may have provided you with valuable and transferable skills.
CDS welcomes your questions about career development. E-mail your questions to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Selected questions will be answered in future columns.
Next: The electronic resume
Public Policy Update
Election Brings Shift in Healthcare Balance of Power
Voters created a major shift in the congressional healthcare balance of power. Although the newly elected House of Representatives will maintain a small Republican majority, the Republican majority in the Senate will narrow significantly, which could mean changes in two important healthcare bills.
In the past year, the House passed a prescription drug bill and a patients' rights bill promoted by the Clinton/Gore administration. The patients’ rights bill (the Norwood-Dingell bill) had been a bipartisan effort, receiving votes by not only all House Democrats, but also 68 Republicans. However, similar bills before the Senate were met with partisan gridlock. The Republican-dominated Senate refused to take up a prescription drug bill and blocked a patients’ rights bill.
Now, George W. Bush’s victory in the presidential election will bring us the first Republican-dominated Washington in almost 50 years. Before the elections, the healthcare conservatives had a one-vote majority in the Senate, which now will be split equally. This change could tip the healthcare balance of power in favor of a far-reaching patients’ bill of rights and, possibly, the passage of a prescription drug benefit.
With the new president expected to seek ways to promote bipartisanship, the patients’ rights and prescription drugs issues are likely to be at the top of his list. Although the country and the Congress may be evenly divided on many issues, that is not the case on these two. The debate on the details of a prescription drug plan and patients’ rights bill has gone on so long that the two sides no longer disagree on that many points.
Both sides support an identical list of patient protections and agree that a patient should be able to sue a health plan, when they believe they have been harmed by the plan’s conduct. However, there is disagreement on the point in the process at which a suit should be allowed. They also disagree about whether state or federal authority should have jurisdiction over parts of a patient bill of rights.
On Medicare prescription drugs, both Republicans and Democrats favor a voluntary “first-dollar” prescription drug plan, which would subsidize the cost of the program for low-income seniors and provide all participants with similar monthly premium and annual co-pay features. Although Republicans would allow private insurance plans to compete with a Medicare prescription drug program, the Democrats would create a single-payer, government-run Medicare drug benefit.
The Clinton administration is striving to bring forth regulations on the environment, labor, healthcare and other topics before the new administration takes office on Jan. 20, 2001. The end of every presidential term that brings a transition from one party to another triggers a blizzard of what has become known as “midnight regulations.”
Congressional Republicans, despite the fact that they will control the House and possibly the Senate both this year and next, are powerless to stop the rulings, which have the force of law. As Bush becomes president, he will not be able to simply cancel the rules left behind by Clinton. Federal rules may take effect only after a formal process that includes hearings, comments by interested parties, a proposed rule, more comments and a final rule. The process is protected by law.
The Clinton administration will soon issue sweeping rules to protect the privacy of medical records. However, under pressure from the healthcare industry, officials say they are backing off from a proposal to give patients a broad new right to sue and recover damages for the improper disclosure of confidential information. The privacy rules, the first comprehensive federal standards to protect the confidentiality of medical data, will affect nearly everyone who receives or provides healthcare in the United States.
During the course of his campaign President-elect Bush outlined his plan for the nation’s major healthcare issues, including the uninsured and the need for a prescription drug plan in the Medicare program and for a patient’s bill of rights in a system increasingly dominated by managed care.
President-elect George W. Bush’s Healthcare Plan
The Uninsured • Provides a “refundable” tax credit to low-income families who buy health insurance. Loosens federal regulations on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to encourage states to enroll more uninsured families. Makes “medical savings accounts” more advantageous.
• Spends $3.6 billion to build 1,200 community clinics in rural and underserved areas.
Medicare • Restructures Medicare into a more competitive system that offers a variety of benefits.
• Establishes a unified trust fund for Medicare’s two halves—Part A (hospital bills) and Part B (physician bills)—to allow a more realistic and rational planning of the system’s financial future.
Drug Benefits • Provides $158 billion for Medicare prescription drug benefits and some other reforms over 10 years.
• The government would pay 25% of the premium; the individual 75%. Low-income people would not pay premiums and, under some plans, would not have co-payments either.
Patients’ Rights • Supports patients’ rights legislation similar to Texas’ (some of which became law without Bush’s support or signature). The law ensures patient access to out-of-network specialists and prohibits incentives to doctors to limit services. Provides fast, independent appeal of insurers’ treatment decisions and gives patients the right to sue.
Source: Washington Post
Americans Rate Nurses Tops in Ethics and Honesty
For the second consecutive year, the Gallup survey on honesty and ethics in professions finds that the American public rates nursing as the field with the highest standards of honesty and ethics. Almost eight in 10 Americans (79%) say nurses have “very high” or “high” ethical standards. Pharmacists finished second with 67%. Pharmacists had consistently finished first in the survey until nurses were added to the list in 1999.
According to Darren K. Carlson of the Gallup News Service, two other professions—veterinarians and physicians—were also rated highly for their honesty and ethics. Sixty-six percent of Americans say that veterinarians have high or very high ethical standards, with medical doctors given a rating of 63% on the same measure. Rounding out the top 10 list of most ethical professions were grade school and high school teachers, the clergy, college teachers, dentists, engineers and police officers.
The survey, which was conducted in November 2000, was based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,028 adults 18 years and older. The full results are available via the “Public Policy” area of the AACN Web site at
Clinton Administration Issues New Ergonomics Regulations
Citing the 1.8 million workers who suffer from ailments caused by repetitive motion jobs, including gardening, packing and typing, the Clinton Administration has issued a new ergonomics standard, which is one of the most extensive pieces of labor legislation in 30 years.
Under the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration ergonomics standards, companies are required to provide employees with information about common musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), their signs and symptoms. how to report MSDs in the workplace and risk factors and activities associated with MSD hazards. If an employee reports MSD, companies must provide healthcare assistance and review the job to determine whether it involves ergonomic risks such as repetition, use of force, awkward posture or vibration.
If a job causes a risk and the problem cannot be corrected in 90 days, employers must implement a full ergonomics program that must involve management leadership and employee participation and reduce the hazards in all jobs where MSD exists. Companies must provide training in setting up and managing an ergonomics program.
Employees with MSD receive full earnings and benefits while they take an alternate duty and 90% of earnings and all benefits when absent from work for up to 90 days.
In addition, employers with 11 employees or more must keep written or electronic records for three years or until those records are replaced by updated records.
The administration, under pressure from organized labor, issued the regulations despite intense opposition from business groups, which have taken the administration to court after realizing they have little chance of overturning the rule by an act of Congress.
The Art of Nursing
This 2001 AACN calendar celebrating the art of critical care nursing has been mailed to all AACN members. This year’s calendar features images and words chosen to reflect the “palette” of qualities from which critical care nurses draw to care for different people in different ways. Members can request additional free calendars by calling (800) 899-AACN (2226). Request Item #1403.
Watch for Pocket Reference in CCN
Because of an oversight at the printer, the pocket reference on analyzing blood gases was not distributed with the December issue of Critical Care Nurse as scheduled. The reference, which is sponsored by Agilent Technologies, will be mailed with the February 2001 issue of Crital Care Nurse.
Write a CE Article for AACN News
AACN is seeking nurses or other healthcare professionals who are interested in submitting articles to be published as continuing education offerings in AACN News and on the AACN Web site, or for use as a monograph.
Suggested topics include domestic violence, AIDS/HIV to meet state relicensure requirements (e.g., Florida), telemetry and progressive care issues, pain management, sedation, neuromuscular blockade, case management, invasive and noninvasive monitoring and renal patient care, as well as JCAHO compliance-related articles that address competency and skill validation programs, tools or best practices.
Send abstracts to Marianne Martineau, Education Resource Specialist, AACN, 101 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656. Additional information is available by calling (949) 362-2000, ext. 361.
$100,000 Fuld Grant Supports National Recruitment Campaign
Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow, a coalition of leading nursing and healthcare organizations, has received a $100,000 grant to produce and place television, radio and print advertisements designed to recruit young people into nursing and inspire existing nurses to remain in the profession.
The contribution comes from the Helene Fuld Health Trust, which seeks to improve the health, welfare or education of nursing students.
Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow, of which AACN is a member, seeks sponsors to help underwrite the national advertising campaign that will begin in early 2001. The advertising campaign message will be that nursing is an exciting, fulfilling and highly diverse profession that involves knowledge-based skills, customer orientation, decision making, scientific inquiry and technological command. The number of coalition members now stands at 24 organizations.
Additional information about Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow is available online at
Group Discount Applies to All Member Categories
Nurses who join AACN or renew their membership as a group of five or more receive a discount on the membership fee.
The group discount program applies to members or affiliate members, as well as to international, student and emeritus memberships.
New and renewing groups of members or affiliate members pay a $69 membership fee per year instead of the $78 annual individual fee. Groups of international members pay $92 per year instead of $104, and groups of student members or of emeritus members pay $46 instead of $52.
This group rate applies only to one-year memberships, and full payment for all members in the group must accompany applications. Membership certificates will be mailed to the individual placing the order for distribution to all members of the group.
For more information about this new program or to obtain a group membership application form, call (800) 899-AACN (2226), or visit the AACN Web site at
Catalog Offers Wealth of Resources
From practice and career development resources to certification products and recognition mementos, the 2001 AACN Resource Catalog provides a wealth of materials for critical care nurses. The new catalog, which is now available in print, is also updated regularly on the AACN Web site at
www.aacn.org. Look for special discounts. For example, during January, 2001, orders placed directly with AACN will be discounted by 5%.*
To receive a catalog, call (800) 899-AACN (2226).
*Orders received through the U.S. Postal Service must be postmarked by midnight Jan. 31, 2001.
Feb. 1 Deadline to apply for Datex-Ohmeda/AACN Research Grant. For more information, or to obtain application materials and instructions, call (800) 899-AACN (2226), or visit the Research” section of the AACN Web site at
Feb. 1 Deadline to apply for AACN Mentorship Grant. For more information, or to obtain application materials and instructions, call (800) 899-AACN (2226), or visit the “Research” section of the AACN Web site at
Feb. 1 Deadline to apply for AACN Certification Corporation Grant. For more information, or to obtain application materials and instructions, call (800) 899-AACN (2226), or visit the “Research” section of the AACN Web site at
Feb. 1 Deadline to apply for Non-RN Educational Advancement Scholarship through the National Student Nurses Association. To receive one of these scholarship applications, contact National Student Nurses Association, 555 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019, or call (212) 581-2211.
March 1 Deadline to apply for appointment to AACN and AACN Certification Corporation national volunteer committees. For more information, call (800) 394-5995, ext. 415, or visit the AACN Web site at
April 1 Deadline to apply for AACN BSN Completion and Graduate Completion Educational Advancement Scholarships. For more information or to obtain an application, call
(800) 899-AACN (2226), or visit the AACN Web site at
April 1 Deadline to apply for NTI Vision Partners Scholarship. For more information or to obtain an application, call (800) 899-AACN (2226).
April 1 Deadline to apply for NTI Dale Medical Products Scholarship. For more information or to obtain an application, call (800) 899-AACN (2226).
April 1 Deadline to apply for NTI Aventis Pharmaceutical Scholarships for novice, first-time NTI participants. Chapters will be asked to nominate. For more information, call
(800) 899-AACN (2226).
April 10 Postmark deadline to register for NTI 2001 at the discounted, early-bird price. For more =information about the NTI, call (800) 899-AACN (2226), or visit the AACN Web site at
May 19-24 National Teaching Institute and Critical Care Exposition, Anaheim, Calif.