President's Column: An Environment of Growth and Renewal

Apr 08, 2024

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As spring begins and many new nurses begin their careers, AACN President Terry Davis challenges experienced nurses to explores ways to educate, mentor and support novice nurses. How they "learn and adapt to the challenges in healthcare is an essential part of how they will become experienced nurses themselves and pay forward what we’ve taught them."
Rising Together theme artwork

Spring is here! As temperatures warm, we see the trees blossom and the flowers bloom, and hear children playing outside in the brilliant sunshine.

As nurses, we also know that when springtime arrives, outdoor activities increase, such as bike and motorcycle riding, running and swimming. Unfortunately, these activities may lead to a rise in trauma cases.

People often ask about my profession, and I share some of what I have experienced as a trauma nurse. Sometimes they find it overwhelming. The details of our many experiences as nurses may be difficult to hear and understand. Some people think healthcare workers become numb and unfeeling because difficult situations require us not to think about ourselves. I say healthcare workers react in a calm, measured way because of the scope of our experience, and because we know our focus must be on the unique and dynamic needs of the patient in our care, in the moment.

Spring is also the time of year when many new nurses begin their nursing careers. This is an important opportunity to consider how we, experienced nurses, are called upon to help prepare novice nurses to manage the hardships and joys of our profession. The education and mentorship we provide to support new nurses as they learn and adapt to the challenges in healthcare is an essential part of how they will become experienced nurses themselves and pay forward what we’ve taught them.

I recently learned about preceptor programs that split the work of precepting between the expert nurse and the more novice nurse. A novel idea! Many preceptors can become fatigued from the number of nurses entering and leaving the profession. Expert nurses can share their wisdom and experience. Newer nurses can share their freshly learned skills and process for managing day-to-day tasks. This creative idea requires us to be nimble and thoughtful about how to meet the needs of both the preceptor and the orientee.

AACN supports novice nurses' transition to practice by offering competency tools they need to feel confident in the controlled chaos of healthcare. AACN is recognized as a trusted expert that provides education to prepare novice nurses for success. AACN also provides certification for more experienced nurses who want to recognize, validate and sustain their expertise.

We also know that we must create an environment where all nurses feel valued and recognized, and are part of the design of a collaborative practice environment based on mutual respect. AACN is actively engaged in supporting hospital systems through AACN Clinical Scene Investigator Academy and the AACN Healthy Work Environment (HWE) National Collaborative, using implementation science to bring the six AACN HWE standards to life in hospitals across the U.S. Both of these programs leverage nurse innovation to implement the HWE standards.

AACN has also entered an exciting new collaboration with AARP — the 2024 Health Equity and Nursing Innovations Fund: Nursing Workforce and Healthy Work Environments. Grants will be awarded to teams who implement innovative solutions that create systemic change, strengthen and diversify the nursing workforce, expand nurse recruitment and retention strategies, and create and sustain HWEs.

Spring brings growth and life to the world and a renewed energy, warmth and hope for HWEs where nurses thrive.

We will soon release “AACN Standards for Appropriate Staffing in Adult Critical Care” — another step forward and another example of how Rising Together can create sustainable Healthy Work Environments in healthcare!

What hope springs eternal for you in your system, hospital or unit?
Tell me what you’re working toward at