President's Column: This Is Our Moment - All In

Jul 01, 2020

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Usually the new AACN theme is revealed at the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI). Since there was no NTI this year, that didn’t happen. Instead, we’ve been faced with unprecedented challenges: a pandemic, financial and social crises, and the collective recognition of the effects of longstanding systemic injustice and racism.

As I reflect on my theme, I am firmly planted in this reality, but I am also turned to a hopeful future. I hope this theme, which was finalized many months ago, resonates even more today. This Is Our Moment — All In.

One idea for the theme came from the lessons I learned during my deployment to Afghanistan, when I saw not only individuals, but a system, dedicated to a single mission: bringing our wounded warriors safely home. Everyone — the entire system — was ALL IN. Right now, I feel like I am reliving my deployment, because what I see around me and hear in your stories is your commitment to a single mission — taking care of your patients and taking care of each other.

As I’ve reflected on my theme for this year, I’ve been thinking about what ALL IN means for me. One source of inspiration comes from the book “Boys in the Boat,” which is about the unlikely crew team from the University of Washington who stunned the world by taking home a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Two themes jumped out at me as I read this book. First, although the boat seems to surge forward in a singular, synchronized motion, each person in the boat brings a unique strength. The second lesson was that the key to their success was more than individual strength or perseverance; it was “the simple notion of everyone pitching in and pulling together.” Being ALL IN does not mean a singular voice or action. The art that accompanies my theme captures the lesson of the boat: We are stronger when our unique strengths come together.

Mountains are a repeating image in the theme’s artwork. For me, they reflect my upbringing in the Pacific Northwest and are a constant in my life. As long as I can see the mountains, I know my direction. They symbolize my life’s purpose, but mountains mean even more to me. During a trip to Alaska I was stunned by the magnitude of the mountains surrounding me. I could have easily been overwhelmed with how small I felt; how can I as an individual make a difference? But I also felt their grandeur. They caused me to pause and recognize the power of our profession, the strength of AACN’s voice when we are ALL IN.

Right now, our commitment to patients and each other, and the power of our voices rings loud because …

THIS IS OUR MOMENT — in the Year of the Nurse — when the world celebrates us as the most trusted profession, it has also learned that the care we give every day as acute and critical care nurses is unique, and while our care can be augmented, it cannot be replaced.

THIS IS OUR MOMENT to courageously raise our voices in advocacy to fulfill our promise to patients, families and each other.

THIS IS OUR MOMENT to make evident and move forward in support of our core belief in the inherent dignity of all persons.

Tell me how you are ALL IN Send me a message at