Talking Points and Discussion Questions for Meetings with Elected Officials

The overall goals for these meetings are to:

1) provide an overview of AACN;
2) discuss the nursing shortage as a public policy issue
3) provide the groundwork for AACN to be a resource

These talking points are designed to be top-line recommendations for a meeting regarding the nursing shortage, but the information discussed at each meeting should address issues most relevant to the particular elected official.


  • Given your interest in nursing and/or workforce issues, we are here today to provide you with an overview of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) and to see how we might serve as a resource to you in the future.
  • We would specifically like to discuss the nursing shortage and the impact that it has on critical care nurses, patient care, and the quality of health care services.

Nursing Shortage Overview

  • Why There is a Nursing Shortage:
    • Supply and Demand - declining enrollment in nursing schools and the aging of the nursing workforce will decrease the pool of registered nurses with a critical shortage starting in 2010 when today's nurses start to retire while the overall demand is predicted to increase.
    • Retention and Workplace Issues - the physical and emotional demands of the environment are created by increasing workloads, decreased staffing ratios and mandatory overtime, which are contributing to increased turnover and nurses leaving the profession. Nurses report feeling undervalued, overworked and underpaid.
    • Recruitment and the Image of Nursing - the image of nursing has changed over the last decade from a field that offered many opportunities to one that is viewed as uncertain and often dangerous. Women have more career opportunities and many students view the job as having unsatisfactory working conditions and low salaries compared to other professions. Many nurses would not recommend nursing as a career choice.
  • Implications of a Nursing Shortage:
    • Registered nurses are essential in ensuring access to and quality of care. The developing nursing shortage poses a significant threat to society's most vulnerable populations and has adverse implications for the quality of health care.
    • When the ratio of nurses to patients is too low, patient care is at risk. For patients that could mean waiting longer for a nurse's intervention, being exposed to medical errors or traveling to hospitals farther away from home for acute care.
  • Strategies to Increase the Supply of Nurses:
    • AACN believes that priorities for addressing the workplace issues and promoting retention should include:
      • Establishing restrictions on mandatory overtime
      • Passing legislation
      • Requiring healthcare facilities to establish patient acuity systems
      • Developing collaborative care environments
    • AACN believes that priorities to increase the supply of Registered Nurses should include:
      • Increasing allocation of resources and public funding on both the national and local levels for nursing programs
      • Greater forgiveness for student loans and financial incentives for those who teach nursing skills
      • Establishment of grants for nursing scholarships and training programs, specifically in the specialty areas
      • Recruitment strategies aimed at promoting diversity in the workplace
    • AACN believes that priorities to improve the image of nursing and promote recruitment should include:
      • Advertising and promoting the nursing profession
      • Educating youth about nursing career opportunities
      • Promoting the value of certification and competency validation

What AACN Is Doing

  • AACN is advocating for increased nursing educating funding by joining other nursing organizations to develop and present a legislative agenda to address funding for nursing education and loan forgiveness programs
  • AACN is supporting the Nurse Reinvestment Act
  • AACN is working with other major nursing and health care organizations as a member of
    and/or advisor for coalitions to address the shortage
  • Other Activities to Address the Shortage (ECCO, Value of Nursing Initiative, etc.)

Discussion Questions

  • What are you and/or your committee doing to address the nursing shortage?
  • What are you and/or your committee's plans for 2004?
  • How can AACN be of assistance to you?
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