President's Video: The Right Tool for the Job: 2.0

Oct 06, 2023

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In 2004, AACN President Terry Davis implemented the first teleICU at Inova Health System and used AACN's Healthy Work Environment (HWE) standards as the building blocks. Now, AACN has launched the new HWE Assessment Tool 2.0. "Nearly two decades ago my team began our HWE journey. Today, you can take the next step on your path."

For me, September is a time for new beginnings. School is back in session, the weather’s slowly changing, and the holidays are ahead.

It feels like the perfect time to consider another new beginning: getting started on heightened awareness and advocacy in our units for an environment where nurses and all other people feel valued and respected. If you’re interested in knowing more, the AACN Healthy Work Environment (HWE) standards provide a foundation to build on. So, if you haven’t started your journey toward a healthier work environment, why not start now?

In 2004, when we implemented the teleICU at Inova, we were located outside the hospital. It felt like quite a challenge to create a team located outside hospital walls that needed to work together internally as well as collaborate externally with several ICUs across our system.

To address this challenge, we chose the HWE standards as a foundation on which to build our team. Once a month we introduced one of the six standards using a poster to spotlight it and created an area for comments, questions and ideas about how we were or were not living the standard. Over a relatively short period of time, this work enhanced our unit satisfaction and positively impacted our engagement scores so significantly that HR asked how we did it. Today, almost 20 years later, some of the same nurses still work in the teleICU and our scores remain high.

Recently, AACN launched a new version of our Healthy Work Environment Assessment Tool (HWEAT 2.0).

HWEAT 2.0 is a free, online tool for you and your team to collectively measure the health of your work environment against the six HWE standards – skilled communication, true collaboration, effective decision-making, appropriate staffing, meaningful recognition and authentic leadership.

Our tool is valid and reliable, used globally, and has been translated into a dozen languages.

There is overwhelming evidence that a healthy work environment affects both patient and nurse outcomes. In fact, our 2021-2022 HWE survey results showed that implementing even one of the HWE standards had a positive impact on job satisfaction and nurse retention.

The new HWEAT 2.0 tool is just 24 questions long, takes about 15 minutes to complete, and produces a baseline report that helps identify departmental strengths and opportunities. The report also includes a comprehensive toolkit to guide your next steps and track your progress.

Rising Together we can create and sustain healthy work environments, where nurses thrive and are less likely to have burnout. Rising Together we can establish environments where nurses are fully engaged and continue to advocate for patients and their families. Nearly two decades ago my team and I began our HWE journey. Today, you can take the first or next step on your path.

Rising Together theme artwork

What are you doing to improve the health of your work environment? Tell me more at