Advocacy Updates

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Our obligation to provide care for patients is tied to an equal obligation on the part of institutions, state and federal governments and public health leaders to prioritize nurses’ safety. We advocate for policy and ethical issues that affect critical care nurses and their work environment.


Letter to CMS regarding staffing Condition of Participation
AACN wrote to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to share the findings from AACN's National Work Environment Survey and our concern that hospitals are struggling to meet the Condition of Participation that requires "adequate staffing". The letter asks CMS to initiate a process for clarifying the staffing requirement and offers to provide nursing experts to contribute to that work.

Nurse Staffing Think Tank
In partnership with the American Nurses Association, American Organization for Nursing Leadership, Healthcare Financial Management Association and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, AACN is leading a Think Tank to identify strategies to address the crisis in acute and critical care staffing. Participants include nurse leaders, frontline nurses, and other stakeholders.

AACN responds to NIOSH Request for Information to Support Health Care Workers
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health requested information on evidence-based strategies to prevent work-related stress and support health worker mental health. Our letter emphasizes the urgent need to improve the health of our work environments, address nurse staffing and include nurses in decision making groups.

Nurse Staffing: A Reason to Leave and a Reason to Stay
What is the solution to poor nurse staffing and high turnover in acute and critical care nursing? This blog reviews the challenges that contribute to nurse attrition, offers six strategies that can help improve nurse retention, and describes how appropriate staffing is integral to a healthy work environment.

Team Nursing and COVID-19 Surge Staffing
The previously widespread practice of team nursing may be worth revisiting as a valuable care delivery model during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read this blog and watch a short video to brush up on the basics.

Acute and Critical Care Staffing Webpage
For more resources, visit AACN’s staffing webpage which provides a curated offering of blogs, nurse stories and key resources that address the nurse staffing challenge.


‘Hear Us Out’ Campaign Describes Nurses’ COVID-19 Realities
AACN has launched “Hear Us Out,” a nationwide effort advocating for the acute and critical care nursing community, as the profession is pushed to a breaking point. The campaign mobilizes nurse voices to outline the dangers of COVID surges, encourages those who have yet to be vaccinated to reconsider, and invites allies to join the effort to increase vaccination rates.

AACN Statement and Resources on COVID-19 Vaccination
AACN calls for all healthcare and long-term care employers to require every member of the healthcare team—employees and all credentialed and contracted providers—to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Widespread vaccination protects the health of our nurses and helps maintain appropriate staffing to support patient care and clinical colleagues.

Joint Statement of the Critical Care Societies Collaborative Encourages Flu Vaccination
The nation's critical care organizations urge all eligible individuals to get their immunizations for influenza and COVID-19. Widespread vaccination against both diseases is an important way to help prevent hospitalizations and decrease stress on an already overburdened healthcare system.

Personal Protective Equipment

Amid New COVID-19 Surge, PPE Must Be Top Priority
Critical Care Societies Collaborative issued a statement reiterating urgent need for immediate action and a national plan to ensure an effective response and save lives, including the efficient distribution of sufficient quantities of PPE that meet conventional safety standards and the equitable allocation of other resources.

Using AACN’s Bold Voice to Help U.S. GAO Understand Nurses’ Needs
As part of their responsibility to oversee use of CARES Act funding, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reached out to healthcare associations for information. AACN leaders and staff volunteered to take part in a virtual interview with GAO researchers on September 25. Among other things, the conversation covered personal protective equipment, the need for government officials to rely on evidence-based decision-making, and nurse representation on federal committees.

AACN Advocates for Federal Funding to Support Nurses
In a recent letter, AACN urged U.S. House and Senate leaders to ensure support for nurses as Congress negotiates the latest coronavirus relief package. The letter specifically addresses the need for personal protective equipment, prioritized testing for front-line healthcare workers and funding for healthcare workers’ mental health support.

AACN Urges Senate Committee to Assure Safe PPE Supplies
In continued efforts to assure frontline healthcare workers have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), AACN submitted recommendations to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions urging the use of evidence-based practices in planning for future supplies and logistics.

COVID-19 Policy Talks Need Nurses’ Unique Perspectives
AACN calls for federal leaders to include nurses in key decision-making groups regarding COVID-19. Nursing care is unique and essential during this pandemic, yet the federal task force coordinating the nation’s response lacks a representative with nursing expertise.

AACN Calls on Federal Government Leaders to Prepare for Future Surges
Noting that strategies to conserve PPE should be temporary measures, AACN calls on federal government leaders to prepare for the future by including nurses in decision-making groups, increasing the production of PPE and other medical equipment and coordinating a process for distribution.

A Call to Action for America to Fight COVID-19
AACN calls upon the government, private sector and all other Americans to uphold their moral obligation and join us in fighting the battle against coronavirus and the resulting COVID-19.

AACN Calls on Government for Action on PPE
AACN calls for immediate action from the federal government and industry to increase supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and other equipment.

AACN Advocates for Accelerated Production of PPE
AACN urges the Federal government to take all available actions to accelerate the mass production and coordinated distribution of PPE and life-saving equipment to healthcare facilities nationwide.

AACN at the White House
AACN Board Member Theresa Davis briefed President Trump, Vice-President Pence and the Coronavirus Task Force on the role of critical care nurses in addressing the COVID-19 crisis.

AACN Presses Federal Leaders for Urgent Action
AACN followed up a meeting at the White House with a letter that emphasized the urgent need for measures to supply nurses with resources to provide safe and effective care.

COVID-19 Legislative Priorities
AACN and other major nursing organizations united to urge legislators to incorporate nursing priorities in any future House and Senate legislation.

Ongoing Conversations with Federal Agencies
AACN has reached out to federal agencies including the CDC and FDA seeking evidence-based projections and supply numbers, as well as updates on distribution and availability of PPE.


Palliative Care Resources for Nurses During COVID-19
Get guidance for palliative and end-of-life care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AACN Position Statement: Ethical Triage and End-of-Life Care
Institutions must institute guidelines and education about triage and end-of-life care so nurses and other members of the healthcare team fully understand considerations and consequences.

AACN Position Statement: Moral Distress in Times of Crisis
While our front-line providers care for patients and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals must vigilantly identify and provide resources to mitigate the harmful effects of moral distress.

Shifting Ethics in a Crisis: Responding to COVID-19
When there is supply rationing, crisis standards of care and the looming potential for triage protocols, we need to apply a different lens to determine what course of action is ethically appropriate.

Facing Moral Distress During the COVID-19 Crisis
Help to better recognize, understand and manage moral distress providing a high-level overview of causes, symptoms and solutions.

Other Advocacy

Letter to members of Congressional Nursing Caucus
Members of the bipartisan Congressional Nursing Caucuses develop and advance legislative strategies to support our profession. AACN contacted Senate and House Nursing Caucus leaders to share our latest National Nurse Work Environment survey results. Citing key findings that demonstrate higher rates of inappropriate staffing and deteriorating work environments, AACN offered support for legislators’ ongoing efforts to improve conditions and create a healthy and sustainable nursing workforce. 

AACN's Statement on the Sentencing of RaDonda Vaught
On May 13, 2022, former Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse RaDonda Vaught was sentenced to three years of supervised probation after being criminally convicted for a medication error that resulted in a patient’s death. Vaught took responsibility for her part in the error and provided Vanderbilt University Medical Center with details of how it happened. Although Vaught received probation, AACN believes her criminal conviction and three-year sentence may lead clinicians to think twice about such open reporting of errors.

AACN's Statement on the Conviction of RaDonda Vaught
On March 25, 2022, Former Vanderbilt nurse RaDonda Vaught was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and impaired adult abuse due to a 2017 medication error that resulted in a patient’s death. AACN believes a punitive approach to healthcare errors drives problems into the shadows and decreases patient safety.

AACN Reaches Out to AHA Regarding CPR Guidance
AACN reached out to the American Heart Association (AHA) about their 2021 interim CPR guidance in patients with known or suspected COVID-19. We offered feedback on aspects of the guidelines we found unclear or potentially unsafe. AHA responded that they have heard healthcare professionals' concerns and crafted revised guidance to emphasize healthcare provider safety.

AACN Urges CDC to Prioritize Safety
AACN reached out to Dr. Rochelle Walensky of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking that CDC guidance consistently and clearly prioritize patients’ and healthcare professionals’ safety. AACN also recommended that nurses be included when guidance that affects frontline workers is developed.

AACN Calls on New Administration to Add Nurses to COVID-19 Task Force
Noting that President-Elect Joe Biden’s selection of an expert team for his COVID-19 Task Force did not include a nurse, AACN sent a letter to the three co-chairs of the Task Force. The letter emphasizes the frontline role of nurses in addressing the pandemic and the need for our perspective in determining the future national response. In addition to expertise in health care delivery, nurses are also the most trusted profession, a key asset as erosion of trust impedes effective prevention measures. A separate letter to Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris from AACN similarly emphasizes the necessity of including nurses in decision-making groups to ensure an effective response to the pandemic.

AACN Position Statement: Science Must Drive Clinical Practice and Public Health Policy
AACN calls for all healthcare decision-making to be anchored in the best scientific evidence available. This is true for healthcare professionals at a patient’s bedside and for public policymakers. Even during fast-moving public health crises, decisions must be based on carefully evaluated healthcare research and the guidance of fully qualified experts.

Arizona Nurse Stands up for COVID-19 Safety
Nurses serve as effective advocates for their patients in many ways. An AACN member in Arizona used a silent protest to express her opinion and stand up for the safety of her community.

AACN Calls on Federal Leaders to Add Nurses to Key Decision-Making Groups
Nurses’ perspectives on this pandemic are unique and essential to informing decisions made by federal leaders, and they should be included in key decision-making groups, urges AACN in a recent letter to federal leaders.

Advocating for Nurses’ Federal Mental Health Resources
AACN has joined a collaborative representing approximately 4 million of our nation’s nursing professionals in writing to the White House to urgently request federal support for the psychological health and well-being of nurses serving on the frontline of the COVID-19 battle.

Help Keep Friends and Family Safe
Share your passion and commitment to safety with your friends and family by explaining the importance of maintaining science-based social distancing.

Joint Statement of the Critical Care Societies Collaborative on Social Distancing
Critical care organizations who are caring for patients infected with COVID-19 urged federal, state and local officials to continue or initiate social distancing practices to slow the progress of COVID-19.

Consensus Statement on Multiple Patients Per Ventilator
Together with other national healthcare associations, AACN signed a consensus statement advising clinicians that sharing mechanical ventilators cannot be done safely with current equipment.

Nurse Appropriations and COVID-19
AACN joined NCC-led testimony for the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies to assert the need for robust funding of Nursing Workforce Development programs (Title VIII) and National Institute of Nursing Research.

In the News

NPR and Kaiser Health News
Chief Clinical Officer Connie Barden was quoted in a story about the number of healthcare workers sickened by COVID-19.

NPR's On-Point
Liz Bridges, AACN's president-elect and a nurse at the University of Washington in Seattle, joined NPR's On-Point radio program to provide a voice for nurses about the PPE shortage.

Liz Bridges explained the urgent need for PPE and the risks of homemade masks for healthcare personnel in a recent article in Newsweek.