HWE Standards Updated

Mar 15, 2016

Added to Collection

New Evidence Confirms Positive Link Between Healthy Work Environments and Patient Safety, Outcomes and Staff Retention

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses publishes second edition of healthy work environment standards

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. — March 15, 2016 — A growing body of evidence confirms the link between healthcare work environments and patient safety, clinical outcomes, staff retention and other measures related to the quality of care. Yet workplace studies continue to find an abundance of unhealthy work environments.

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) amplifies its commitment to improve the environments in which nurses work, with the publication of the second edition of “AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments: A Journey to Excellence.”

“We know from listening to our more than 100,000 members that the impact of technology and the burden of more regulation and reporting, together with the increasing complexity of patients, add to the challenge of ensuring that work environments are healthy,” said AACN Chief Clinical Officer Connie Barden, RN, MSN, CCRN-E, CCNS. “As a result, today’s work environments demand even more attention to the fundamental issues delineated in these standards. The stakes are high – patients’ lives and nurses’ well-being depend on it.”

AACN’s original six standards for healthy work environments (HWEs) remain the core of the updated document:

  • Skilled Communication – equal proficiency in communication and clinical skills
  • True Collaboration – relentless pursuit and fostering of true collaboration
  • Effective Decision Making – valued and committed partners in leading organizational operations
  • Appropriate Staffing – effective match between patient needs and nurse competencies
  • Meaningful Recognition – authentic acknowledgement of the value each person brings to the work of the organization
  • Authentic Leadership – adoption of the HWE imperative and engagement of others to achieve it

The standards are now supported by additional research and new evidence confirming the link between healthy work environments and optimal outcomes for patients, healthcare professionals and organizations. Preliminary findings from a Barriers to Practice survey conducted by AACN confirm the need for continued focus on the health of work environments. Results will be released later this year.

“These standards confirm that healthy work environments are unquestionably linked to optimal outcomes for patients and their families, nurses and other healthcare professionals and healthcare organizations,” said AACN President Karen McQuillan, RN, MS, CNS-BC, CCRN, CNRN, FAAN, clinical nurse specialist at R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore. “We must reinvigorate our commitment to creating and sustaining healthy work environments, which are essential for providing Courageous Care.”

The new edition includes real-world examples of the HWE standards in action, pulled from hospital units that have received the Beacon Award for Excellence and participants in the AACN Clinical Scene Investigator Academy nurse leadership and innovation training program.

The 44-page document or an executive summary can be downloaded from the AACN website at no charge.

The AACN Healthy Work Environment Team Assessment is also available to help organizations align quality and safety improvement efforts with the HWE standards. Healthcare professionals can use the free online tool to survey staff, compare their results with industry standards and develop step-by-step strategies to improve performance, patient safety, staff recruitment and retention, and their workplace environment.

AACN offers additional resources related to healthy work environments, including research published in the American Journal of Critical Care and Critical Care Nurse and continuing education materials.

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, California, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN represents the interests of more than 500,000 acute and critical care nurses and includes more than 225 chapters worldwide. The organization's vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution.