ANA on the Frontline

Educate, innovate, celebrate

By: Genna Rollins

Return of in-person event features robust educational content, celebrations of excellence.

The ANCC National Magnet Conference® and ANCC Pathway to Excellence Conference® both came roaring back as in-person events Nov. 11-13 in Atlanta—and as a combined meeting for the first time—after the pandemic demanded an ANCC Virtual Summit in 2020. With palpable excitement, attendees reveled in the opportunity to travel outside their normal environments, and to network, learn, and celebrate together. As a hybrid event, the conference offered specially curated content to virtual attendees.

The conference featured three general sessions with speakers—documentary filmmaker Carolyn Jones, entrepreneur Josh Linkner, and author and healthcare consultant Marcus Engel—who drew from their own healthcare and life experiences to offer uplifting and inspiring messages for attendees. In addition, the combined ANCC National Magnet Conference and ANCC Pathway to Excellence Conference featured more than 100 concurrent sessions across four Magnet themes (structural empowerment; exemplary professional practice; new knowledge, innovations, and improvements; and transformational leadership) and four Pathway themes (professional development, safety and quality, shared decision-making and leadership, and well-being).

Northwell Health Nurse Choir gave a spirited rendition of “Lean on me”.

The opening ceremony set the conference’s upbeat tone with two choirs—Georgia Tech Combined Choir and Northwell Health Nurse Choir—giving spirited renditions of “You Are the Champions” and “Lean on Me,” respectively. With Northwell Health Nurse Choir’s success as a season 16 top 10 finalist on America’s Got Talent, the show’s executive producer, Simon Cowell, offered a video thank you to attendees. His comments reflected the event’s overall emphasis on honoring nurses for their exemplary service despite enormous challenges during the pandemic. ANCC Vice President Rebecca Graystone, MS, MBA, RN, NE-BC; Magnet Recognition Program® Director Maureen Lal, DNP, MSN, RN; and Pathway to Excellence® Program Director Christine Pabico, PhD, RN, NE-BC, FAAN, welcomed attendees to the combined conferences and promised memorable educational sessions and activities throughout.

Loressa Cole

In welcoming remarks, ANA Enterprise CEO Loressa Cole, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, observed that the ANA Enterprise, “Recognizes what you’ve all been through and are still going through. And we want to offer our deepest appreciation for your heroic efforts in this unprecedented battle.” She added, “In these extraordinary times, the ANA Enterprise is here for all nurses, because our life’s work is supporting your life’s work.”


Rhonda Anderson

ANCC President Rhonda Anderson, DNSc(h), MPA, BS, RN, FACHE, FAAN, acknowledged the growth in ANCC programs, with 320 healthcare organizations designated or redesignated since 2019 as Magnet or Pathway to Excellence institutions. In that same timeframe, the ANCC Certification program received 118,000 new or renewed applications. ANCC is “raising the bar” and tailoring its framework to emphasize continuing education and leadership, Anderson said. “We’re making these enhancements to better prepare you for the realities of our profession, and the challenges of the future,” she added. “As nurses’ roles continue to expand at every level, ANCC is increasingly emphasizing intra-and interprofessional collaboration.”

Ernest Grant

ANA President Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, acknowledged the stresses the pandemic has placed on nurses and urged attendees to take care of themselves and one another. He invited them to access ANA Enterprise resources designed to support nurses, including the Well-Being Initiative and Healthy Nurse Health NationTM.

Grant then updated the audience on ANA’s and collaborating partners’ efforts involving the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing (the Commission), which is examining racism in the profession with an eye to motivating all nurses to confront this scourge. “Let me state unequivocally that racism, along with racist actions and behaviors, have absolutely no place in nursing and are a direct contradiction to our moral core values and the code of ethics for nurses,” he said. “We must all advocate for policies that are inclusive and promote civility, mutual respect, and human rights for all healthcare providers, patients, and others.”

Spirited acknowledgements

ANCC program directors
ANCC program directors Christine Pabico (L) and Maureen Lal (R) join vice president Rebecca Graystone in giving a warm welcome.

Honoring of achievements, excellence, and innovation was a through-line of both the ANCC National Magnet Conference and ANCC Pathway to Excellence Conference. During the opening ceremony, representatives from Cohen Children’s Medical Center, recipient of the 2020 Magnet Prize® sponsored by Cerner, gave a progress report on the BEE Mindful program. This multifaceted tool helps staff assess and respond to individual needs of children with neurobehavioral disorders. BEE Mindful has been implemented in 15 institutions in the Northwell Health System in New York and is being adopted by community organizations as well.

The Magnet and Pathway designation ceremony brought out the event’s celebratory spirit. The rollcall of designees included organizations from 10 countries other than the United States; representatives from facilities in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom were present to bask in the festivities.

The observances continued with announcements of the National Magnet Nurse of the Year® awards, the National Pathway Nurse of the Year® honorees, the 2021 ANCC Magnet Prize sponsored by Cerner, and the 2021 ANCC Pathway Award® sponsored by Cerner.

Attendees celebrated Magnet and Pathway designations.

The 2021 ANCC Magnet Prize was awarded to University Hospital and Ross Heart Hospital at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. Nottingham Children’s Hospital in Nottingham, England received the 2021 ANCC Pathway Award, the first organization outside the United States to be so honored. See “ANCC honors nurses and healthcare organizations” on page 53 for more information about all the accolades bestowed during the conference.

Before the announcement of Magnet and Pathway honorees, Grammy-nominated singer and actor Josh Groban serenaded the audience with a virtual, a cappella performance of “Smile,” concluding by wishing attendees “many smiles in the future.”

Timely and relevant educational content

The ANCC National Magnet Conference and ANCC Pathway to Excellence Conference gave attendees many reasons to smile, but the heart of the event was its robust educational programming spread over 3 days. In addition, attendees could join preconference events, including the ANCC Nursing Continuing Professional Development Summit, and extensive sessions offering Magnet and Pathway program guidance.

Nurses also presented more than 150 posters reflecting their practice insights and innovations. The exhibit hall featured nearly 130 sponsoring and exhibiting organizations. Safety protocols required all in-person attendees to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination and to wear masks. Virtual attendees could access general sessions, select concurrent and roundtable sessions, and poster sessions. They also could engage with exhibitors and fellow virtual attendees.

In sessions across the four Magnet and four Pathway themes, attendees heard from subject-matter experts and seasoned innovators who offered advice on successful nursing practice initiatives, insights on professional development and transformational leadership, and solutions for bettering nursing work environments and continuing education.

In a Magnet session, Coretta Jenerette, PhD, RN,AOCN, CNE, FAAN, a professor and associate dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of South Carolina College of Nursing, called on her research and clinical experience with sickle cell disease to examine social and structural determinants of health and the crucial role nurses play in advocating for their patients to achieve better health outcomes.

Jenerette shared a video she created with input from individuals with sickle cell disease. In the vignette, a nurse appears tone deaf, repeatedly telling her young adult patient that her patient-controlled analgesia pump will be discontinued and that she will be discharged despite the patient saying she is still in pain. The nurse enters the room with her own assumptions about sickle cell disease and patients with this disorder, and is setup to approach the patient as she does based on the report she’d received at change of shift, Jenerette observed.

Jenerette, a South Carolina Nurses Association member, urged nurses to “hold people accountable when they do things that are not appropriate … and not within guidelines, especially in the areas of patient care.”

In a Pathway presentation, speakers Valerie Rodriguez-Yu, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, and Amy Cruz, MSN, RN, CNL, PCCN described how the South Texas Veterans Healthcare System aligned with Pathway to Excellence standards to successfully transform organizational culture.

An initial self-assessment revealed that just 9 of 30 clinical areas had fully implemented and active unit-based councils. “You can say you have a unit-based council but if they don’t have support or a way to share their ideas or implement broadly then you’re not really going to be successful,” observed Rodriguez-Yu.

A poster presenter discusses his research with an attendee.

Rodriguez-Yu went on to describe actions she took to engage with nurses across the organization. She also elaborated on initiatives the system had undertaken on a variety of fronts, from patient safety programs and flexible scheduling to transition to practice programs and evidence-based practice changes.

When action plans are being created, involving direct care nurses is essential, according to Cruz, a Texas Nurses Association member. “If you don’t involve your nurses from the beginning, you’re going to have an uphill battle to get their buy in,” she said.

Engaging with presenters once again in person.

In an invited virtual session, Katie Boston-Leary, PhD, MHA, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, director of nursing practice and work environment at ANA, and Kendra McMillan, MPH, BS, RN, senior policy advisor at ANA, reported on the efforts of the Commission and some of the feedback the Commission received during a series of confidential listening sessions with 80 nurses. Nurses of color spoke of challenges and roadblocks to career progression, having their credentials and overall intelligence questioned, and being retaliated against for addressing racist behaviors.

McMillan and Boston-Leary concluded by offering 10 tips for being an anti-racist in nursing. One example involves becoming a story catcher by doing less telling and more listening and asking. “The stories regarding racism are recent. They’re painful, but they’re ready to be shared in a safe environment,” said Boston-Leary.

Plan ahead

The success of the 2021 ANCC National Magnet Conference and 2021 ANCC Pathway to Excellence Conference paves the way for this year’s event, Oct. 13-15 in Philadelphia. To learn more about ANCC programs, visit

Genna Rollins is a writer/editor at the American Nurses Association.


2022 ANCC National Magnet Conference and ANCC Pathway to Excellence Conference

Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation

National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing

The Well-Being Initiative

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