AACN’s Road Map to a More Equitable Future

Added to Collection

Executive Summary

Fiscal Year 2016

Over the years, the boards of directors of AACN and AACN Certification Corporation have had many discussions regarding the lack of several dimensions of diversity represented on our boards. In April 2016, both boards and AACN’s senior leadership held a joint session focused on exploring the concepts of diversity and inclusion. The key learnings from that day:

  • We must elevate our expectations of ourselves in regard to enhancing the association’s diversity and inclusion. If we do not, we risk perpetuating blind spots in our individual and organizational perspectives that will inhibit optimal advancement of AACN’s mission.
  • This is a continual journey of dialogue, discovery and learning. While there is agreement with the experts that we need to begin by creating a clear philosophy, we are in search of more than a philosophical statement and acknowledge that this is weighty and worthy cultural work to evolve our way of being.

Fiscal Year 2017

In fiscal year 2017, we committed to engage a consulting group with expertise in equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) to further our education and help us chart a distinct path for AACN. After an extensive search for an expert consultant, we selected CommonHealth ACTION (CHA) as our partner for this important work.

Based on our initial discussions with and learnings from CHA, we changed our focus from diversity, inclusion and health equity to diversity, inclusion and equity — a broader concept that includes health equity.

CHA’s “equity-focused approach engages the ‘head’ (historical context, data) and the ‘heart’ (fairness, justice) to create a perspective transformation that translates into action.” Their objective is to develop people and organizations to produce health through equitable policies, programs and practices.

Fiscal Year 2018

In partnership with CHA, we formed a staff equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) Steering Committee to shape the initial phases of our work. Next, we completed a baseline assessment of our (board members’ and staff members’) current understanding and perceptions of EDI concepts.

Fiscal Year 2019

AACN held an education and visioning session with both boards of directors, senior leadership and the EDI Steering Committee members. The goal was to develop an EDI vision statement for AACN, allowing us to clearly articulate our position. We collaborated with both boards of directors on the development of a vision statement and conducted a series of two-day staff educational experiences facilitated by CHA. The learning objectives for these sessions included:

  • Developing a common language for EDI to support communication, knowledge sharing and collaboration
  • Recognizing the historical context of EDI
  • Describing the role of privilege and oppression in systems and institutions
  • Understanding the interplay of “isms” and the concept of intersectionality
  • Discovering how to apply an equity lens to all of our work, identifying action steps to bring equity into practices in our organization
  • Exploring the development of personal EDI stories

Fiscal Year 2020

From September 2019 through January 2020, we held a series of two-day EDI educational experiences for all AACN team members.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began and then evolved, many of our EDI activities planned for spring 2020 had to be paused. Addressing the COVID-19 crisis by providing the nurses in the AACN community with the resources and support they needed to safely care for patients with COVID-19 required unprecedented team member time and organizational resources.

We carefully considered how to balance the need to do this important planned EDI work with the emergent work the pandemic demands. Supporting the nurses in our community with the needed resources and advocacy, while also assuring the health and well-being of staff, required us to shift most of our resources to focus on this response. We had to pause our EDI work until we were able to more fully understand the demands of the community and ensure that this work could be given the time and resources it deserves.

Fiscal Year 2021

Our journey continues, but now with even greater insight. We understand, even more clearly, that this work is about driving a cultural transformation to ensure a sustainable way of being, not a checklist of things to do or motions to go through. On the next leg of our journey, we are committed to these actions:
  • Engage you, the members of our nursing community, to inquire, listen, learn and plan the next steps for our organization and community.
  • Elevate and accelerate the comprehensive integration of equity, diversity and inclusion into our strategic and operating plans.
  • Continue to share the equity, diversity and inclusion work we undertake.

To facilitate this work, we have three strategies to help us create a more equitable AACN in the future.

Appropriate Staffing – Resourcing the Work

  • Dedicated a full-time team member to drive AACN’s EDI efforts with our entire AACN community (internal team members and our broader community of exceptional nurses)
  • Formed an internal EDI Council to co-pilot this work along with the EDI Steering Committee
  • (Future) Engage members of the nursing community to plan future work

Effective Decision-Making – Understand what our data tells us and learn what our nursing community needs

  • Analyze key data through an equity lens to understand how various groups respond
  • Gain an understanding of what other nursing associations, especially those in the National Coalition of Minority and Ethnic Nursing Associations, are doing?? planning??
  • Hold listening sessions to hear directly from our AACN nursing community about how the EDI concepts impact your lives and your work and how AACN can be most effective.

True Collaboration – Apply an equity lens to AACN’s programs, policies and practices

  • Apply an equity lens – identify who benefits from or is burdened by AACN policies, practices and programs
  • Create a road map for integrating this work into our strategic and operating plans

For more information contact Mary Pat Aust, equity, diversity and inclusion lead: marypat.aust@aacn.org.