AACN News—October 2002—Opinions

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Vol. 19, No. 10, OCTOBER 2002


President's Note: Bold Voices: When AACN Speaks ...

By Connie Barden, RN, MSN, CCNS, CCRN
President, AACN

We need many bold voices to solve the challenges facing critical care and make a difference in healthcare. The voices of individuals. The voices of groups. Just as I have called for your individual voice to be heard, AACN�s voice must be heard. The voice of an undisputed leader, influencing our care for patients and their families and the environment in which we give that care.

Which issues should we highlight? And, how do we effectively amplify our voice? Therein lies the challenge for AACN�s leadership team. Because the voice of AACN speaks for the members of a professional organization, its leadership team must clearly understand the association�s core purpose, our raison d��tre.

Driven by the clarity of AACN�s vision, mission and values, we have no identity crisis! AACN�s work is to help nurses make their optimal contribution to critically ill patients and their families. To set the standard that creates excellence in care. To promote care that is based on evidence. To create ethical, humane and healing environments for care. And to support critical care nurses through programs, resources and certifications in our lifelong quest for excellence.

Clear about our identity, how will AACN�s leadership team craft our association�s voice? Without a deliberate process to identify and develop positions, AACN becomes vulnerable to taking reactive, knee-jerk positions that dilute the impact of our finite resources. To ensure that issues are thoughtfully and strategically considered, the board will develop a written framework delineating AACN�s key platforms to further focus our bold and proactive voice. We will use this framework as a tool to hone and optimize what we say and how we say it.

First, we need your input, as well as data from our continuous scanning of the environment. What are the hot issues? What helps you to provide optimal care? What stops you? Tell us, and please, don�t hold back! Your input helps to drive AACN�s voice. E-mail us at aacninfo@aacn.org. Fax us at (949) 362-2020. Leave a voicemail message for any member of the board at (800) 394-5995. You can find us in the board listing at right.

Then there�s the Voice Project we launched in May at the 2002 National Teaching Institute and Critical Care Exposition. We want to know: If you had the opportunity to communicate to the world why critical care nurses are essential, what would you say? What do you do to continually renew your passion for nursing? Share your voice by visiting the AACN Web site at http://www.aacn.org and clicking on the Voice Project. Do it as often as you like, whenever you have a new perspective. We will use your responses in many ways, including in AACN�s messages to the media, legislators and other key healthcare influencers.

AACN has 65,000 members with 65,000 individual opinions and priorities, which challenges us to stay cohesive and focused. We may not be able to address the concerns of each individual, but we can effectively represent what is in the best interest of critical care nurses, patients and families. Why? Because our vision and our mission keep us focused. They drive our decisions even when perspectives differ.

With clear and focused messages, we amplify our voice in a variety of ways. Here are just a few:

� AACN created the standards and resources for care of critically ill patients.
� AACN is the acknowledged source for educational resources. The NTI is the premier event for nurses and industry. ECCO, our new online Essentials of Critical Care Orientation, has set a new standard for self-paced clinical education.
� AACN sets the gold standard for specialty credentialing with CCRN certification for critical care nurses and CCNS certification for clinical nurse specialists.
� AACN is a long-standing partner with ACCP, the American College of Chest Physicians, and SCCM, the Society of Critical Care Medicine.
� AACN is a leader in the profession�s strategic plan, Nursing�s Agenda for the Future.
� AACN has joined nearly 100 nursing organizations to form the new Nursing Organizations Alliance.
� AACN is sought as the acknowledged expert on issues affecting the entire care continuum for acute and critically ill patients.
Above all, AACN�s strongest alliance is with our members. The power of 65,000 to amplify AACN�s voice is indisputable. We will communicate clearly what we stand for and what our platforms are, to support you in using your voice to speak about critical care nursing.

Faced with challenging opportunities, individuals and organizations must take new risks and move to new levels of courage. AACN will not shrink, recede or be silent on issues important to critical care nurses and patients. We will continue to lead healthcare to excellence. You can count on AACN to accept this challenge�and to be more bold and demanding of our members and of ourselves as an organization than ever before.


Letters

Who Will Care for Me?
I keep reading about the nursing shortage and what we need to draw nurses back into the fold. Consider this. When I retire, I will leave with only my 401K benefits, which have been dropping like a rock.

Why don�t hospitals treat core staff like the military or Kaiser and reward them with retiree medical benefits or a pension? They could even stipulate that the medical care benefit be used at their facilities. That would be better than standing out in the cold with every other senior citizen looking for medical insurance.

We would stay through the bad times if, say after 12 years, we knew that at the end of 20 years, there would be benefits waiting. Currently, there is nothing to hold nurses to be loyal to one facility.
I have spent 30 years in my chosen profession caring for the sick. Now who will care for me when it is my turn?

Joyce Warren, RN, BSN, CCRN
Santee, Calif.

Your opinions are important! Share them with others by contributing to the printed dialogue each month in AACN News. Send your �Letters� to: AACN News, 101 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; fax, (949) 362-2049; e-mail, aacnnews@aacn.org. AACN News reserves the right to edit letters for style, clarity and space.