karen daley ana nnw nurses week national

Celebrating our profession and looking to the future


Like the start of a new year, I tend to think of National Nurses Week (NNW) as a marker—a time to look back at all we’ve accomplished, to celebrate the here and now, and to consider what opportunities lie ahead for ourselves and our profession. For me, this NNW is one of endings and new beginnings. Next month, my term as ANA president is coming to a close and I will embark on a new path.

As with any new beginning, it’s exciting, challenging, and at times, frankly a little unsettling. I consider myself fortunate, however, to be an RN, because the very nature of our profession lends itself to new and diverse opportunities. I can recall getting my first job as a staff nurse on a surgical unit and feeling so happy that I’d made it—I was a nurse. Over time, I became a charge nurse on a med-surg unit and then specialized in emergency nursing, which was my passion for many years. Even though I was active in my state nurses association, I didn’t think I would become a national advocate for safe sharps and ultimately witness the president of the United States signing needlestick safety legislation.

And I didn’t know then that I’d have the privilege of serving as president of ANA, helping to transform the association into one that is even more relevant and responsive. I’ve been particularly proud of how we have created more opportunities for nurses to engage in collaborative work on issues, such as optimal staffing and care coordination, and have continued to elevate nurses as leaders in healthcare reform.

Throughout my career, I’ve benefited from a network of professional colleagues, at work and through my state association and ANA, who’ve encouraged me to take chances, seize opportunities, pursue more education, and further develop my leadership skills.
This year, the NNW theme is “Nurses Leading the Way.” It’s appropriate because we lead every time we identify a problem and develop a plan to address it—whether it’s for an individual patient, the greater public health, or anything in between. It is what we do, even though we often don’t recognize ourselves as leading.

To help you embrace and strengthen your leadership skills, the ANA Leadership Institute has developed a pipeline of professional development programs, available at And this NNW, we offered
a free, leadership-focused, continuing education webinar on May 7, which will be accessible online.

Also as part of NNW, our charitable and philanthropic entity, the American Nurses Foundation, cohosted with Fresenius Kabi the May 7 movie premiere of “The American Nurse,” which showcases five nurses—all inspiring role models for current and future nurses. Proceeds from the movie and the 2012 book of the same name will help support a scholarship fund at the Foundation. The film is now showing across the country; visit for locations.

To further recognize nurses, the Foundation has expanded its “Honor a Nurse” program through the generosity of Wolters Kluwer Health. The program is a public way to celebrate individual nurses who have inspired you to reach greater heights and who have made a difference in the profession. I encourage you to acknowledge a nurse at, to take that philanthropic step toward supporting the Foundation and in turn, our profession.

Looking back, I see how a strong nursing network has given me opportunities to grow professionally, and in turn, to lead. I urge you to take the time this week, this month, to celebrate, as I will, where you’ve been and to consider the next steps in your career. We’ll be here to support you.

Karen A. Daley, PhD, RN, FAAN

President, American Nurses Association

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