AACN News—March 2001—Association News

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Vol. 18, No. 3, MARCH 2001

Register Early for the NTI and Save!

Take advantage of the discounted, early-bird deadline to register for AACN’s National Teaching Institute™ and Critical Care Exposition in sunny Southern California. Register by April 10, 2001, and save $50 off the fee of $425 for AACN members and $535 for nonmembers, which will be collected after April 10. Registration can be completed by calling (800) 899-AACN (2226) or online via the NTI Web site.

Scheduled for May 19 through 24, NTI 2001 is set in the new Anaheim resort area. Those who attended the 1996 NTI in Anaheim will hardly recognize the area, which has undergone a multimillion-dollar expansion that features exciting new attractions such as Downtown Disney, with its array of shops and restaurants, and the new California Adventure theme park.
In addition to the rich core of educational programs and experiences that are the mainstay of this prestigious conference, the NTI offers participants a chance to connect with colleagues from across the country, as well as from international settings.

AACN President Denise Thornby, RN, MS, will set the tone for the NTI when she delivers her presidential address on May 21. “Make Waves: The Courage to Influence Practice” is the theme. Participants can then match their interests and tailor their schedules around a variety of educational opportunities, which range from independent, self-paced learning to speaker presentations. They can also stretch their NTI learning experience by registering for preconferences on May 19 and 20.

Make Time for Fun
Of course, there are also many fun activities and excursions that NTI participants can enjoy while in Southern California for the NTI.

An evening at Knott’s Berry Farm, one of the area’s most popular attractions, is included with your NTI registration. This annual Participant/Exhibitor Event on May 23 is sponsored by companies exhibiting at the Critical Care Exposition, which contribute a portion of their booth fees toward the event. Each NTI registrant will receive a voucher, which can be exchanged for a ticket to attend this event. Additional tickets for guests of participants can be purchased for $17.50 for adults and $14 for children. Children under the age of 2 will be admitted free. Free shuttles will be available throughout the evening between Knott’s Berry Farm and NTI hotels.

Another popular event is the annual Comedy Night, cosponsored by AACN and Genzyme Biosurgery. This year’s Comedy Night on May 22 will feature comedian
John Pinette, who is back by popular demand after appearing at the NTI in 1999.

Again for 2001, NTI participants will have the chance to win a new car. Hyundai Motor Company has donated a 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe sport utility vehicle, which will be awarded through a drawing as part of a fund-raiser to benefit the AACN scholarship fund.

And, debuting at NTI 2001 will be a silent auction, where participants can bid on a variety of items. Proceeds from this new activity will also benefit the scholarship fund.

For more information about or to register for NTI 2001, call (800) 899-AACN (2226), or visit the NTI Web site.

Leadership Lessons Learned: Find the Courage to Relate, Mentor and Lead


Editor’s note: Following is the sixth in a series of articles by members of the AACN Board of Directors on leadership lessons they have learned from their experiences.

By Dorrie Fontaine, RN, DNSc, FAAN

AACN President Denise Thornby, RN, MS, has challenged us this year to find the courage to influence others toward achieving AACN’s vision of a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and families where critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. She has asked that we all “make waves” for change in our critical care settings.

My leadership lessons have taught me courage. Many of these lessons have come from my AACN colleagues on the national Board of Directors, at the local level and in my work setting. We often need courage to create the space in our hearts and minds to consider how we can lead in a better way.

Investing in relationships, mentoring and “leading up and down” are leadership skills that I am continually developing. These skills do not happen by accident or without hard work. Following are approaches that have worked for me.

Lesson One: Invest in relationships
When was the last time you heard someone say, “I can’t wait to go to the staff meeting this morning?” Most of us make disparaging comments about meetings. However, this attitude overlooks the fact that meetings can provide rich opportunities to develop and foster relationships. Instead of complaining about meetings, we should view them as an investment in relationships.1 This can take place as simply as exchanging a few premeeting laughs with a colleague or encouraging dialogue during a meeting.

Meaningful dialogue, which can create greater understanding and change perspectives on a thorny patient care or healthcare system problem, is worth striving for on a daily basis. Unfortunately, in healthcare, we often have discussions and debates, instead of real dialogue. Although discussion is the dominant interaction in professional settings, dialogue can achieve more sustainable solutions.

Why does dialogue not occur more often? Perhaps, it is because the hectic pace of healthcare impedes our ability to be a part of reflective conversations. Truly listening to others is hard work; it takes time and energy.

We need both discussion and dialogue.2 Discussion involves making a decision; dialogue involves exploring choices. Although discussion produces the results we need in a timely manner, dialogue can bring out the “intelligence of the heart” through richer conversation that encourages individuals to think deeply and in a new way.2 To actively engage in dialogue, we must listen respectfully to others, suspend our opinions and cultivate and speak our own voice. By practicing dialogue skills, we can develop the power and the promise that can be harnessed when people think together.2 The next time you are rushing to a meeting, pause to reflect on how you can get the most out of it. Listen to the conversation, ask key questions and encourage new ideas.

Approach meetings as an investment in relationships.1 In fact, Tim Porter O’Grady points out that relationships account for 90% of successful leadership.3

At your next meeting, sit beside someone new to you who might have a different perspective or reach out to a nursing colleague who often sees patient care issues in a different way. Capturing the value of personal contact is increasingly important in this high-tech, electronic age.2

Lesson Two: Be a mentor, find a mentor
When the New Zealand yacht that successfully defended the Americas Cup challenge last year crossed the finish line, the skipper was actually riding in a small, inflatable boat—behind the huge, 12-meter yacht.4 In a tribute to his understudy, Skipper Russell Coutts allowed 26-year-old Dean Barker to steer the Kiwi boat across the finish line, ahead of the Italian challenger, thus defending yachting’s grand prize by Team New Zealand. At the time, I thought this gesture was a dramatic example of how we hope to mentor others to stand in our shoes at the bedside, whether as a staff nurse, a preceptor, a nurse manager or an advanced practice nurse.

Experiencing the gift of mentorship is worth the effort. The best mentors are likely the ones who are still being mentored. They can tell you what you often cannot tell yourself or see in yourself. I am fortunate to have been on both sides of this relationship. To help develop the next generation is an honor and privilege, as well as tough work. To watch from the sidelines with pride, as did the Kiwi’s skipper, while a critical care colleague accomplishes a goal is a mutually satisfying event. Reach out and offer your mentorship skill to others, while maintaining and thanking your own mentor.

Lesson Three: Lead up and lead down
If leadership means influencing others with a persuasive message, then the ability to influence those “up and down” at all points along the organizational chart is critical to success in healthcare settings today. If we focus exclusively on the staff and not our supervisor, we are missing the “leading up” part of this equation.

Why do we expect so much from our leaders in nursing? Too often, we are overly critical of our leaders and are disappointed when they fall short of our expectations. View your boss as a struggling human being, no more able to walk their talk than we are able to walk ours.1 Stop being disappointed and learn the business of our organization inside out.1 Instead of expecting your boss to mentor you, perhaps you should be mentoring your boss.

Leading up can include skills, such as helping a boss think strategically by providing high quality information and analysis.5 We all have figured out how to plant the seeds of an idea with upper management and water the ground until spring. Because, as critical care nurses, we know what patients and families need, we can be an articulate voice in leading up.

A little more than a decade ago, Angela Barron McBride gave a series of talks for Sigma Theta Tau International on strategies for optimism. Her key point was that our nursing leaders must remain optimistic when much around us (even in the late 1980s) was depressing. I often review her messages and reflect that, despite the challenges of the nursing shortage and the disarray of the healthcare system, we can have hope in the future if we remain optimistic.

Remaining optimistic takes courage, which can be found through leadership. I ask you to consider my leadership lessons for yourself—invest in relationships, find a mentor and be a mentor, and lead up and lead down. I thank colleagues in my work settings and especially in AACN, at the chapter and national level, for allowing me the opportunity to practice these leadership skills over many years.

1. Block P. Turnabout is fair play. Association for Quality and Participation. October 1999. 11.
2. Isaacs W. Dialogue and the art of thinking together. Doubleday, New York, NY. 1999.
3. Porter O’Grady T. Tough times call for caring leaders. Nursing Management. 2000. 31:8.
4. Phillips A. Kiwis rule the seas. Washington Post, March 3, 2000, D1, D5.
5. Useem M. The leadership moment: Nine stories of triumph and disaster and their lessons for us all. Random House, New York, 1998.

Critical Care Nurses Ready to Assume Leadership Roles

By Bonnie R. Sakallaris, RN, MSN, CCRN
Co-chair, Leadership Development Work Group

Many critical care nurses appear poised to assume leadership roles, if an informal survey conducted by the Leadership Development Work Group (LDWG) is any indication.
As part of its work to validate the skill sets that the group has identified as important to critical care nurses’ abilities to influence their practice environments and achieve optimal patient outcomes, the LDWG developed and distributed the survey at leadership presentations and the annual membership meeting during AACN’s National Teaching Institute in May 2000 in
Orlando, Fla. These skill sets are conflict resolution; understanding and promoting incremental change; self-awareness and dialogue.

More than 700 completed surveys were returned. However, because the survey distribution was limited to venues that would attract nurses already interested in leadership roles, the findings should not be generalized with respect to all critical care nurses. Nevertheless, several key points were validated by the survey.

For example, survey responses indicated that a large number of critical care nurses in all role classifications are interested in and ready to develop their influencing skills. Also, in contrast to earlier surveys, responses to the terms leadership and influence were positive.

Although the survey respondents validated all the skill sets presented, they ranked problem-solving skills as the most important. However, the results varied according to the respondents’ self-identified roles and years of experience in nursing.

Asked about methods that could be applied to help nurses develop influencing skills, the survey group was open to multiple approaches, including traditional presentations, Web-based education and mentoring.

The LDWG will use the survey results to continue to develop and integrate the key skill sets into all aspects of AACN’s work. Problem-solving skills will be integrated and highlighted in each of the four skill sets.

More specific information about each skill set will be presented in future issues of AACN News. As it further develops strategies to assist critical care nurses embrace these skills, the group is anxious to receive feedback from members. Send your comments to education@aacn.org.

Public Policy Update

Patients’ Rights
New legislation to protect consumers in managed care plans and other health coverage has been introduced by U.S. Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.). SB 283, the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001 was unveiled at a news conference on Capitol Hill. McCain was flanked by Democratic and Republican lawmakers from both houses, who described the amendment to the Public Health service Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and the Internal Revenue code of 1986 as a compromise.

Based largely on the bill that passed the House in 2000 before being rejected by the Senate in favor of a narrower version, the new bill seeks a middle ground on the controversial issue of when and where patients would be able to file lawsuits against a health plan. Under the bill, patients would be able to sue in state courts when they have complaints about the denial of benefits or the quality of care. They could seek as much money in damages as their state allows. However, patients would have to go to federal court to pursue cases involving an alleged violation of their health plan’s contract and penalties would be limited to $5 million.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson contended that the $5 million ceiling was too high and that the proposal did not go far enough in safeguarding employers against lawsuits aimed at the insurance plans they sponsor. The new bill does little to change the dynamics of the fight over patients’ rights among interest groups. Although the American Medical Association has endorsed the bill, groups representing employers and insurance companies have denounced it.

President Bush was to submit an outline to Congress that would detail the principles he favors in a federal patients’ rights law. A White House official noted that the president supports many of the proposal’s goals, including guarantees that health plans will pay for emergency room care and visits to medical specialists when needed and ensuring that, when disputes arise, patients can resolve them through an independent review panel before taking the complaints to court. Although noting points of agreement, senior administration officials said that there are key points of the new legislation they will oppose. Cited were the previously most divisive issues regarding how much freedom patients should have to sue and how many people the federal law should protect.

AACN supports comprehensive patient protections that will ensure timely access to high quality healthcare and include protections from retaliation for nurses who advocate for their patients.
To access a summary of this bill and the White House release, titled “Principles for a Bipartisan Patients’ Bill of Rights,” visit the AACN Web site at http://www.aacn.org. Click on “Clinical Practice,” then “Public Policy” and “Public Policy Update.”

Supervision of CRNAs
The Health Care Financing Administration has issued a final rule that defers to state professional practice laws and hospital by-laws to determine which licensed professionals can administer anesthesia. The rule removes a federal requirement for physician supervision of anesthesia administration in hospitals, critical access hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers.
The former rule required supervision by physicians, regardless of whether they had any expertise in the delivery of anesthesia. The new rule increases overall flexibility by allowing states and hospitals, which are closer to patient care delivery, to make decisions about the best way to deliver care. It allows certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) to practice without physician supervision, where state laws permit.

President Bush suspended the rule for 60 days following its issue on Jan. 18, 2001. The American Society of Anesthesiologists and Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation, as well as other surgical and medical associations, have sent a letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson requesting that action be taken to rescind the final rule.

AACN supports the final rule, which ensures access to anesthesia for patients in rural as well as medically underserved areas.

For more information and the “HCFA Fact Sheet on Physician Supervision of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists,” visit the AACN Web site at http://www.aacn.org. Click on “Clinical Practice,” then “Public Policy” and “Public Policy Update.”

Work Place Ergonomics
Congressional Republicans are devising a plan to cancel the sweeping ergonomics rules that were issued in the last four days of the Clinton administration to require businesses to educate workers about repetitive-motion injuries and eliminate workplace hazards that cause them. Both opponents and supporters of new federal workplace safety rules are seizing on a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) finding that, although some jobs can be associated with injuries to the back, wrist and other areas, the work-injury relationship is complicated. The study said that the injuries could be reduced with well-designed intervention programs.

Although business groups urged Bush and Congress to intervene, arguing that a delay in enforcing the rules to allow a full review of the NAS study and reopening the rule-making process should be the first order of business for the White House and Congress. Labor unions say the rules can prevent hundreds of thousands of disabling injuries each year.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Administrator Charles Jeffress said the study validated his agency’s call for new workplace safeguards and affirms what OSHA found in its rule making—that, in fact, these disorders are work-related and that ergonomics programs do make a difference.

“What this study says is that the science is good, that this rule is based on good science. In fact, it should be read as an encouragement to those people who have ergonomics programs and should be read as a validation of OSHA’s issuing approval,” Jeffress said.

The legislation to cancel the ergonomics program would invoke the Congressional Review Act, an untested five-year-old statute that allows Congress to nullify agency rules. The law requires both chambers to pass “a resolution of disapproval’’ with a simple majority. The law also prevents the Senate from filibustering against a nullification bill. The statute requires that Congress act before May 18, 2001.

The rules, which were effective Jan. 16, 2001, require employers to inform workers about repetitive-motion injuries and symptoms by mid-October 2001. Provisions of the rule state that:
• If a worker reports a pain or injury that has lasted for a week, an employer must determine if it is work-related and if a hazard exists in the workplace. If so, the employer must ensure the
worker can get a medical exam.

• If the injury stems from the job, the employer must fix the hazard within 90 days or launch an ergonomics program, which could mean hiring an ergonomics consultant, training employees
to stave off repetitive stress injuries or installing equipment designed to prevent such disorders.

• If an injury requires that a worker be put on restricted duty, the employer must continue to pay full salary and benefits for up to 90 days.
• If a healthcare provider says a person cannot work at all, the employer must provide 90% of the pay and benefits for up to 90 days. Under previous state workers’ compensation program
benefits, employers generally paid workers two-thirds of salary and benefits.

The study, requested by the Department of Health and Human Services, was issued by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, two branches of the National Academy of Sciences. The academy is a private organization chartered by Congress to advise the government.

For more information on the rules and the study visit the OSHA Web site at http://www.osha.gov and the National Academy of Sciences Web site at http://www.nas.edu.

Medical Privacy Rules
The healthcare industry is lobbying the Bush administration to delay, change or kill regulations protecting the privacy of medical records. Hospitals, insurance companies, health maintenance organizations and medical researchers say the rules, issued in the final weeks of the Clinton administration, would impose costly new burdens.

Under the rules, healthcare providers must obtain written consent from patients for the use or disclosure of information in their medical records. The rules will affect almost every doctor, patient, hospital, pharmacy and insurance plan in the United States.

Critics say the rules are too prescriptive and, in many ways, unworkable. Healthcare providers of all types have flooded the new administration with requests to shelve the rules or reopen the rule-making process to solicit public comment on the need for major changes.

Pharmacists say the consent requirement would be impractical in many situations. They question how they can obtain written consent from a patient whose doctor phones in a prescription that is picked up by a neighbor or a relative.

Congress, unable to agree on a comprehensive health privacy law, directed the secretary of health and human services to issue rules. But many lawmakers said they never expected the standards to be as far-reaching as those issued by former President Bill Clinton in December 2000.

The rules would explicitly permit doctors, hospitals, other health services and some of their business associates to use personal health records for marketing and fund-raising. Under the rule’s exemptions:
• Doctors, clinics, hospitals and others that normally have access to medical records, as well as their contracted business associates will be allowed to send out individualized health
information and product promotions.

• Foundations affiliated with hospitals will have continued access to patients’ names, ages, addresses and telephone numbers for fund-raising initiatives. Such foundations raise billions of
dollars annually by soliciting patients and their families at medical facilities and at their homes.

• Patients will have a new right to see their own records; employers will be prohibited from receiving personal health data, except for the administration of health plans; and people who
misuse private medical records, such as by selling them, could face fines or prison.

• Any healthcare provider or service that uses medical records will have to notify patients how they are doing so. Patients also will have the option of saying no to marketing or fund-raising
access after they have been contacted at least once by a given entity.

Consumer advocates and privacy specialists are concerned that the exemptions will undermine the spirit of the rules and spur the use of confidential records for marketing by specifically allowing activity that has often been constrained by ethical or business concerns. For example, the regulations will permit pharmacies to share patients’ prescription records with business associates to target patients with letters reminding them to take medicine, or to send them “educational materials” sponsored by drugmakers.

Supporters of the new rules note that healthcare providers now will have to determine that products provide a health benefit before contacting patients. When contacting patients, marketers and fund-raisers will have to disclose the source of personal information, describe their financial interest and explain why the patients have been targeted for a promotion, officials said.
Department of Health and Human Services officials said that, because getting health information to patients is considered important, they decided to be more flexible on the issue of marketing than the draft released in 1999, as long as healthcare providers met guidelines for disclosure and gave patients the ability to opt out.

AACN is committed to protecting the confidentiality of individually identifiable information used to provide healthcare services and supports the establishment of federal standards providing nationally uniform confidentiality protections. AACN advocates for standards that promote appropriate use of patient information used for treatment, research, healthcare operations and payment of claims and supports a review of the final regulations to address concerns regarding key provisions that could create barriers for patients to access the healthcare system.

For more information on the final HHS privacy rules visit http://www.hhs.gov online.

Submit a Speaker Proposal for NTI 2002

March 15, 2001, is the deadline to submit speaker proposal abstracts for AACN’s National Teaching Institute™ in 2002, which is scheduled for May 4 through 9 in Atlanta, Ga. In addition to clinical and other educational topics, proposals that address the skills critical care nurses need to influence their practice and the care of critically ill patients are encouraged. These topics, which were identified by the Leadership Development Work Group based on a survey conducted at NTI 2000 in Orlando, Fla., include dialogue skills; conflict resolution; managing and effecting change; developing personal wisdom; and an awareness of the values, beliefs and attitudes critical care nurses possess. Speaker proposal packets can be obtained by calling Education Associate Edie Carpenter at (800) 394-5995, ext. 364; by visiting the AACN Web site at http://www.aacn.org; or by calling Fax on Demand at (800) 222-6329 and requesting Document #6019.

International Congress of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine Set for Australia

The 8th World Congress of Intensive and Critical-Care Medicine will be presented by the Australian College of Critical Care Nurses and the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society in Sydney, Australia. “Intensive Care In the New Millennium” is the theme.

The dates are Oct. 28 through Nov. 1, 2001. AACN is a cosponsor of this conference.

Additional information is available online at , or by contacting the conference secretariat at iccm@icmsaust.com.au.

Circle of Excellence: Award Recognizes Excellence in Mentoring

The AACN Excellence in Mentoring Award is part of AACN’s Circle of Excellence recognition program. This award recognizes individuals or groups who develop and enhance another’s intellectual and technical skills, acculturating them to the professional community, and modeling a way of life and professional achievement.

Following are excerpts from exemplars submitted by recipients of this award for 2000.


Janie Heath, RN, MS, CS, CCRN, ANP, ACNP
Washington, D.C.
Georgetown University School of Nursing

My mentor, Janie Heath, has been a significant influence in my nursing career. Her mentoring abilities are exemplified by her outstanding organizational skills, attention to detail, caring behavior, and promotion of the nursing profession and professionalism.

My journey from “novice to expert” with my mentor began during my final year of my nurse practitioner (NP) program. I clearly remember my first encounter with Janie as an NP in the primary care clinics at the same medical center where I was a staff ICU nurse. She was sitting in her office labeling a patient’s pill bottles with pieces of colored tape. She explained to me that her patient often was confused by all of his medications. By color coding the bottles to match a time-based, color-coded chart, her patient knew which pills to take and when.

After graduation, my mentor took an active role to precept and orient me as a new NP. She was a role model not only for clinical excellence, but also for political and professional nursing organization involvement. She provided me with the vision necessary to “blaze trails” as the first NP in an acute care setting in our medical center. Based on an acute care NP model developed by my mentor, I have successfully implemented the role of the cardiovascular NP.

My mentoring relationship has continued, even after Janie relocated to another state. We were accepted into the AACN Wyeth-Ayerst Nursing Fellows Reporters Program.
My mentor will always play an important role in my professional growth. She truly represents excellence in nursing leadership and mentorship for the new millennium.


Philip E. Murdock, RN, CPTC
Arcadia, Ind.
Clarian Health Partners

My first job as a staff nurse was with a neurological critical care unit. I was terrified from the minute I stepped into the unit. I was oriented on the day shift for six months before starting work on the night shift, where I met Phil, who would become my mentor. Phil is an exceptional nurse who serves as a preceptor for new employees, a charge nurse and a participator in unit-based committees.

When I started working the night shift, I felt insecure about my abilities. Would I ever be comfortable caring for these complex patients? Phil was consistently there to reassure me that I was capable of working on our unit.

Phil became a valuable resource at the beginning of my nursing career. He was able to guide me through complex situations with a systematic approach. I was comfortable asking him questions, and he provided easy-to-understand rationale for his responses. Phil was also an important educational resource, helping me develop as a member of our healthcare team.

Phil taught me that, although patient care is our number one priority, we must not forget to attend to the needs of our patients’ families. His example has improved my daily nursing care, because I include the family as an extension of my patient care. I will always be grateful to Phil for his leadership and guidance. He taught me to believe in myself and to never doubt my nursing abilities.


Ellen Ruth Sorensen, RN, MSN, CCRN, CNS-C,
Neptune, N.J.
Jersey Shore Medical Center

Ellen was my preceptor, mentor and educator 19 years ago. She took me through the critical care orientation, which involved classroom courses, technical tasks and leadership skills. During the first week following this 12-week orientation, I received a 2-year-old baby who had choked on an apple while her mom was feeding her breakfast. I remember the fear of having to care for a critically ill child for the first time.

Ellen was the one who stood by me, demonstrating her expertise in critical care and teaching me how eloquently she could handle this tragic situation. Despite our efforts, the baby progressed to the point of brain death, and the parents made the decision to share their baby’s organs.

As the mother gently rocked her baby for the last time, Ellen began to cry with her. There were no words to console this mother, just the emotional and physical support that Ellen was able to provide. This demonstrated to me that, as high-tech critical care nurses, we must not only attend to the critical needs of the patient, but we must also demonstrate the caring and compassion necessary to begin the healing process for our patients and family members in every setting.

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to give back to my mentor the gift she gave me. Ellen’s son was admitted following an injury at school in which he suffered an epidural hematoma requiring immediate surgery. I sat with Ellen for four hours during her son’s surgery, giving her all of my experience, support and compassion. The gift Ellen has given as a mentor to others and to me is one that has affected our entire professional careers. She has shaped and modeled nursing in our critical care area to a level of outstanding dimensions.


Karen Yates, RN, BS, CEN, LP
Cedar Hill, Texas
Methodist Medical Center-Dallas

One of my strongest beliefs is the necessity to never forget from where you came. The ability to share the information that I have learned during my career is both an honor and a pleasure. I can think of no greater compliment than the title of mentor. When I look back at my successes in emergency and critical care medicine, I always think of the people who were willing to share their knowledge with me.

A mentor is described as a trusted counselor, guide tutor or coach. If I can be any one of these, I have succeeded in my career. I believe in being an advocate not only for my patients but also for my staff. Healthcare in the year 2000 is a challenge that many are ill prepared to face. We must be more fiscally responsible, creative and open to change than ever before.

I have always been committed to helping others in a time of need, whether that is through community volunteerism or peer-assistance programs. I volunteer with a group that provides critical-incident, stress debriefing services to nurses, emergency workers and others in the healthcare profession. Taking care of each other is vital to continuing to care for our patients.
Rich DeVos once said, “One of the greatest gifts you can give to another person is the gift of encouragement.” I could not say it better.

On the Agenda

Following are decisions and discussions that took place during the AACN Board of Directors’ January 2001 conference call.

Agenda Item: Circle of Excellence Awards
The board accepted revisions to the annual Circle of Excellence Awards program, including five new awards that better recognize the roles of today’s critical care nurses. The changes, which also adjust the awards nomination and application process, were recommended by a volunteer task force that reviewed all awards as they relate to the needs of members.
Added to the Circle of Excellence program are the AACN Excellent Clinical Nurse Specialist Award and AACN Excellent Nurse Practitioner Award, which replace the former. combined Excellent Advanced Practice Nurse Award; the AACN Excellence in Clinical Practice/Non-ICU/CCU Setting Award; the Excellence in Research Award; and the Excellent Student Nurse Award.

In addition, the board approved revisions to four awards. Language was added to better distinguish between the 3-M Healthcare-AACN Excellence in Clinical Practice Award and the AACN Excellence in Caring Practice Award; the former AACN Excellence in Management Award was changed to the AACN Excellent Nurse Manager Award; and the AACN Media Award was changed to include Web-based presentations along with print and broadcast media.

Earlier deadlines were also established. Nominations will now be due July 1 each year, with exemplars and other documentation due Sept. 1 each year.

The call for Circle of Excellence Awards nominations will appear in the April 2001 issue of AACN News and on the AACN Web site at http://www.aacn.org.

Agenda Item: Media Relations and Communications
The board reviewed a summary of activities conducted by the media relations firm of Burson-Marstellar, which AACN retained in spring 2000 to assist in developing a comprehensive communications program to help strengthen the association’s voice on behalf of critical care nurses and to promote the value of certification. Since that time, the agency has been engaged in a variety of AACN initiatives, including conducting focus groups around both AACN and AACN Certification Corporation issues; activities related to the upcoming National Teaching Institute and Critical Care Exposition in Anaheim, Calif.; analysis and recommendations related to legislative issues affecting critical care nursing; and development of a proactive strategy to give critical care nursing more exposure in the media.

Missouri Health Center Receives ICU Design Award

St. Joseph Health Center, Kansas City, Mo., was the winner of the ICU Design Award for 2000. The citation, which recognizes designs that enhance the critical care environment for patients, families, and clinicians, was established by a joint committee of AACN, the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on Architecture for Health.

This award is part of AACN’s Circle of Excellence recognition program.

The receipients receive $1500—$500 from each of the sponsoring organizations—as well as registration for one person to attend each of the organization's annual meetings or conferences. In addition, a plaque is presented to display in the unit.

Submitting the award application for the ICU at St. Joseph Health Center was AACN member Twila Buckner, RN, BSN. The architect was Scott Corbin.

Scannable Resumes Allow for Keyword Searches

Editor's note: Following is the second in a two-part series by Career Development Services on electronic resumes. The first in the series, on e-mail resumes, appeared in the February 2001 issue of AACN News.

By Rosemary Westra, RNC, MS
Manager, Continuing Education
Career Development Services

Recruiters often request scannable resumes, especially if they must review several resumes.

The request to submit a scannable resume means that the information will be scanned by optical character recognition (OCR) software, which stores and retrieves resumes in automated databases. This way, recruiters can simply search by keyword to find qualified candidates for a specific position. Thus, the main difference from a conventional resume is that a scanned resume should begin with a “keyword summary.”

Following are some tips for developing an effective scannable resume.
1. Use nouns and short phrases in the keyword summary to describe your accomplishments and major skills. Examples of these include hemodynamic monitoring, critical care experience,
preceptor, BSN and AACN member. If an employer is looking for someone with these skills and accomplishments and these keywords appear on your resume, your resume will likely be
selected from the database for further review. To convey your professional capabilities, use clear language and keywords that were mentioned in the job posting or job description.

2. Use standard 8-by-11-inch, lightweight white paper, with black ink text.
3. Use standard text fonts, such as Helvetica, Optima or Times, in at least 11- or 12-point size. Smaller fonts do not scan well. Always use plain text, because scanners do not read italics,
underlines, shading, boxes or bullets. Justify the text to the left.

4. After the keyword summary, start the resume with your name, address and contact information. Avoid using brackets or parentheses for contact numbers, which tend to crowd the

5. Check for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Ask a colleague to review your resume as well.
6. Use paper clips instead of staples, if the resume is longer than one page. Place your name on each page of the resume.
Increasingly, recruiters will call for resumes that are in a scannable format. Following the above tips will ensure that your resume is scannable, and will increase the likelihood that it will
be selected from the database.

You Asked

Q:I have more than 20 years of experience in nursing. Should I include all of this experience on my resume?
C.C.Y., Dallas, Tex.

A:That depends on your experience. Most employers are primarily interested in the last 10 years of professional work experience, so emphasize your experience and accomplishments during this timeframe.

You may include employment longer ago than 10 years. However, limit this information to your position, employer, location and dates of employment. Do not include jobs that are irrelevant to your career, such as store clerk or waitress.

Next: How to Write an Effective Cover Letter

May Is National Critical Care Awareness & Recognition Month

Shine the spotlight on the critical difference you make every day during National Critical Care Awareness & Recognition Month in May 2001.

“Critical Care—Partners in Healing” is the theme of this year’s celebration, which is sponsored each year by the Foundation for Critical Care to recognize the collaborative contributions of nurses, physicians and other healthcare providers to the care of critically ill patients. AACN again joins the Foundation for Critical Care as a strategic partner in sponsoring this annual event.

This year’s celebration logo has been incorporated into an array of awareness and recognition products that can be used to enhance the visibility of critical care and to highlight the profession. These products can also be customized with your institution or chapter logo. Ranging from balloons and buttons to posters, pens, t-shirts and travel mugs, they are priced to fit almost any budget.

Critical care nurses continue to develop innovative ways to increase awareness of critical illness and recognize the healing that interdisciplinary partnerships bring to their communities. Unit displays and daylong, hospital-wide health fairs are only a few of the celebration activities. Appreciation gifts bearing the year’s logo are an affordable way to recognize each member of the healthcare team.

To request the 2001 National Critical Care Awareness & Recognition Month product guide, or for more information about this celebration, call the Foundation for Critical Care at (800) 906-3366.

Annual Meeting: American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

Please join the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses National Leadership Team at the Annual Meeting

Tuesday, May 22, 2001
Noon-1 pm
Anaheim, Calif.

• Learn about AACN’s strategic plan for the future.
• Hear reports by AACN committee chairs.
• Ask questions from the floor and share comments with AACN President Denise Thornby and members of the AACN Board of Directors.

Or, if you choose, deposit written questions in advance at “Ask AACN” boxes in the AACN Resource Center.
Please do so by 6 pm May 21.

Looking Ahead

March 2001

March 15 Deadline to submit speaker proposal abstracts for AACN’s National Teaching Institute,™ May 4 through 9, 2002, in Atlanta, Ga. Speaker proposal packets are available from
Education Associate Edie Carpenter at (800) 394-5995, ext. 364, or by visiting the AACN Web site at

April 2001

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
http://www.aacn.org. Applications are also available from Fax on Demand at (800) 222-6329. Request Document #1017.

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

April 20 Ballots for FY02 AACN Board of Directors and AACN Nominating Committee candidates must be received by noon. In addition to returning paper ballots mailed to members
in March 2001, online voting can be completed by visiting the AACN Web site at
http://www.aacn.org. Click on the “Vote” icon.

May 2001

May 1-31 National Critical Care Awareness and Recognition Month. “Critical Care: Partners in Healing” is the theme. To request the 2001 National Critical Care Awareness &
Recognition Month product guide, or for more information about this celebration, call the Foundation for Critical Care at (800) 906-3366.

May 1 Deadline to submit proposals for the $5,000 American Nurses Foundation (ANF) grant, sponsored by AACN. For more information, contact ANF at 600 Maryland Ave., SW,
Suite 100W, Washington, DC 20024-2571; phone, 202-651-7298; e-mail,

May 19-24 National Teaching Institute and Critical Care Exposition, Anaheim, Calif. For more information or to register, call (800) 899-2226 or visit the NTI Web site.

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