Bringing home the headlines


The 2016 American Nurses Association (ANA) Annual Conference, “Connecting Quality, Safety and Staffing to Improve Outcomes,” held March 9-11 in Orlando, produced a number of headlines and take-away messages from the many presentations and posters. I’d like to share a few that inspired me. Read these in terms of how I interpreted them, and keep in mind these are only sound bites and not each session’s full story.

‘Nursing practice is changing. So are we.’

The above quote was everywhere at the meeting, on posters, fans, pens, and more. It reinforced the sentiments behind the launch of the new ANA Enterprise, which includes a new brand and look. ANA Enterprise was announced with the fanfare of a “big reveal.” The presentation created a sense of just how important it is to be united with one voice in order to ensure a successful future.

As the organizing structure of ANA, the American Nurses Foundation (ANF), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), ANA Enterprise leverages the combined strength of each organization to drive excellence in practice and ensure the voice and vision of nurses are recognized. With this new structure, nurses everywhere are supported and rewarded in so many comprehensive ways. Learn more about ANA Enterprise.

‘Everything seems different but has anything changed?’

I was so moved by this quote from a keynote speaker that I wrote it down three times. Yes, change is all around us but the signs may appear both clear AND vague at the same time. C.S. Lewis said, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?” Just ask nurses who have practiced for a couple of decades and they will tell you just how different nursing is today compared to their student nurse days.

I travel quite a bit in my role as CNO of a large health system. While on an airport moving sidewalk last month, I thought, “Hmm…time is like a moving sidewalk and often it seems to move VERY SLOWLY!” But the sidewalk fulfills its function, shifting travelers from one location to another.

In nursing, our day feels like a FAST moving sidewalk with so much happening around us that we can’t keep up with it. There are lots of different things to deal with, such as new documentation screens, new policies, and new procedures. But did anything really change? Is CARE different? It’s up to us to make the changes that matter, the ones that make the real difference in care and for the caregiver.

Closing the barn door before the horse bolts

This point relates to solving an issue once it’s too late to stop it, hence the term, “closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.” The speaker noted that we need to solve healthcare issues we all know so well, BEFORE the ramifications are felt, not after.

Addressing high nursing turnover and creating a healthy work environment are two examples of what we need to do before nurses bolt out of their jobs, or sadly, out of the profession altogether. Too much turnover and lack of a healthy work environment apply to far too many nursing work places and it will take a united effort to fix them. An interesting analogy is a good old fashioned “barn raising.” Before the crane and modern building tools, a farmer couldn’t build a barn on his own. In what became a huge tradition, it took everyone in a community to help raise the barn together.

It will take all of us to fix what’s broken today, but the good news is that we’ve done it before, and we can do it again. Let’s close the barn door, before the horse bolts!

Mark your calendar for 2017 ANA Annual Conference: Translating Quality into Practice, March 8-10 in Tampa

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