AACN Chapter Leadership Development Workshop Case Study #3 – Version 1

Case Study #3:

Where Did All The Members Go?

(Fictitious) Chapter Name:

The Incredible Shrinking Chapter

# of Chapter Members:


# of Chapter Officers and Board Members:

President (three years running), treasurer (first year); no other officers in place and no established chapter board

Rural/Urban Area:

Mixed but mostly urban

How active is this chapter?

Hold chapter meetings monthly with 8-12 members in attendance to discuss chapter issues and strategize on ways to move forward.

Background Information:

Five years ago this chapter was very active with over 100 members. The chapter was meeting frequently and held many planned events as well as completing numerous community service projects. Over the past two years, however, they have been losing members.  

Conflict or Issues:

The chapter doesn’t have an annual plan in place, and doesn’t know what the members want, so it’s hard for them to know how to move forward and bring members back. The president and treasurer decided to contact the chapter advisor for advice, which included conducting a needs assessment of the current and former members.

Then they did some reflecting on what they had done well in the past, what had changed, what things have gotten in the way of moving forward and what things they can’t change. From those results they were able to pinpoint that many of the members wanted help preparing for the certification exam. 

The president and treasurer then put together a plan that focused on providing regular certification study groups. Having little money in their chapter account, the president and treasurer asked several cohorts they worked with that already had their certifications if they would be willing, together, to lead a study group.

The certified nurses agreed and they, along with the president and treasurer, planned out a series of study groups by topics at various locations and times. Flyers were emailed to all members and posted in all of the area hospitals.

Over the span of three months, the study groups grew from seven people to over 40. As word of mouth traveled, more certified nurses stepped up to also help with the study groups.

Two years later, the chapter has 125 members, a full board (president-elect, treasurer-elect, secretary, education co-chairs, membership chair and community service chair); ongoing study groups, as well as journal clubs and regular education events — all from listening to their members and developing that initial plan.

From this experience they say they learned two very important things: (1) you must ask your members what they want and need from their chapter membership and (2) review and modify your annual work plan based on that feedback — and regularly review it to make sure you’re on track.

Things you need to know about this chapter:

The president and treasurer, although very dedicated, were ready to disband the chapter before all of this happened. Before they did, they decided to reach out to the Chapter Advisor, and are glad they did.


Participants: Identify the HWE standard(s) that would apply to this scenario and how you would operationalize them as you consider possible solutions.

(  )  Skilled Communication
(X)  True Collaboration
(X)  Effective Decision Making
(X)  Appropriate Staffing
(  )  Meaningful Recognition
(X) Authentic Leadership

Appropriate Staffing

  • Not enough board members to facilitate the group to plan and develop programs

True Collaboration

  • Reached out to members who were willing to work together to develop programs
  • Diversity programs to reach different levels of nurses (i.e., ICU and PCU nurses)

Effective Decision Making

  • What the members need (central needs assessment for AACN)
  • Survey all staff even nonmembers to generate ideas.

Authentic Leadership

  • Try one-on-ones to generate interest, lets people know you personally care what they think.

Skilled Communication

  • Survey membership, involve chapter advisor.
  • Strategic planning — need to have plans/ideas in place for the group to follow, to lean towards.
  • SWOT analysis
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