AACN News—March 2002—Opinions

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Vol. 19, No. 3, MARCH 2002

President's Note: A Journey of Rediscovery: Reach Out to Invite Traveling Companions

Michael L. Williams
President, AACN

According to Gandhi, �A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.� However, that first step need not be a lonely one. The risks and fears encountered along the way are often bridged more easily and more enjoyably when traveling with companions.

AACN�s legacy of collaboration became even richer three years ago when our leaders added a strategic dimension. Our level of commitment to partnering with organizations that share our interest has been heightened. As a result, we are better positioned to influencing work environments and the quality of care that patients and their families receive. Consider these examples of AACN strategic partnerships.
Supported by the compatible philosophies and visions of their organizations, the leaders of the American College of Chest Physicians, the Society of Critical Care Medicine and AACN meet regularly around a shared concern for patients and families and a commitment to creating excellent work environments. This collaboration enriches our contributions to healthcare by providing a strong voice and creating comprehensive clinical programs. For example, PACEP, the pulmonary artery catheter education program for nurses and physicians, was developed with a fourth partner, the American Thoracic Society.
Robbie Johnson, MD, immediate past-president of ACCP embraced the partnership well:

Our leadership seems so compatible, but then, after all, why wouldn�t we be? AACN is an organization of critical care nurses and ACCP is one of critical care physicians and surgeons. We are clinically active; you are clinically active. We are leaders in our own institutions; you are leaders in your own institutions. We work with your members on a daily basis; you work with our members on a daily basis.
Together we make a positive difference in the lives of critically ill patients. Together we work to make the delivery of critical care better. We do that as individuals in our own institutions, and it just makes sense that we now do that as partners with our national organizations.

AACN is developing other strategic partnerships as well. To create a powerful voice that embraces all nursing groups, we support the new Nursing Organization Alliance. To harness our profession�s extraordinary talent in confronting the nursing shortage, AACN is at the table in planning the Call to the Profession strategic response initiative. To strengthen the cultural competence of all nurses and ethnic minority individuals to nurses, AACN has begun dialogue with the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations, the National Association of Hispanic Nurses and the National Alaska Native American Indian Nursing Association.

The tragic events of Sept. 11 and the first nationwide experience with bioterrorism brought home the essential need for preparedness among critical care professionals. To identify how AACN can make its optimal contribution to preparedness efforts, we are in dialogue with the American Red Cross, the United States Public Health Service and AMSUS, the Society of the Federal Health Agencies.
Indeed, individually and collectively, we are stronger because of our companions. We are aligned to achieve a shared goal: excellent care for critically ill patients and their families.


Remember Our Roots and Our Patients
I have been a bedside critical care nurse for more than 30 years and a member of AACN since the beginning. I am a diploma grad. of which I have never been sorry.

This is my third nursing shortage, and I agree this one is different. Previously, the hospitals were interested in hiring RNs. Although you might have been overworked and underoriented, the point was the patient. Even AACN was different. They cared most about the patient and thus the bedside nurse.

Now it seems that hospitals are interested only in BSNs, and AACN is interested only in advanced practice. If circumstances had been then as they are now, despite the fact that I had wanted to be a nurse since I was 5 years old, I would not have been a nurse.

No one in my family had been able to go on to higher education. Money was tight. There was no money for university education, and large loans were not an acceptable method of payment. I was able to take out a small student loan and became a nurse. I wanted to be at the bedside and have stayed at the bedside.

When the push for BSNs started, I predicted a shortage, because no one I had gone to school with could have afforded college. I thought they would remember and learn. The problem is that no one has.
We bemoan the fact that there are few minorities in nursing. Instead, they are nurses aides and licensed practical nurses because that is all they can afford in both time and money.

I encourage AACN to push for the hiring of RNs from associate-degree or diploma programs, as well as from BSN programs. We must stand together. University programs must encourage bedside nursing, not just a year or two at the bedside while enrolled in an advanced practice program.

Remember your roots and remember the patients.
Shirley Moore, RN, CCRN
Laurel, Md.

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