Transformation is a powerful process that is fundamental, and at times, a necessary part of life. As new registered nurses, we count on transforming ourselves from inexperienced novices into highly skilled professionals who can use our expertise at the bedside, in communities and educational arenas, or anywhere else we choose.
On a larger scale, nurses and members of the American Nurses Association (ANA) are actively participating in efforts to transform our healthcare system for the better. ANA nurses were instrumental in shaping the dialogue around healthcare reform and in gaining support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which became law 2 years ago.
Although health care’s transformation and ANA’s work around it is ongoing, many of the ACA provisions benefiting patients, consumers, and nurses have taken effect. For example, more people have access to health insurance. Protections are in place to prevent people from having to go without any insurance because of a preexisting condition, and young adults can remain on their parents’ policies up to age 26. Insurance companies are prohibited from imposing lifetime limits on benefits, and annual limits are being phased out and will be prohibited entirely in 2014.
There is a sharper focus on preventive care, which is an emphasis for which ANA and nurses nationwide have been calling for some time. Many insurers are required to cover standard wellness and prevention services, such as certain immunizations and mammograms, with no deductibles or copays.
Under ACA, nurses have greater roles and opportunities to lead and develop new models of care and best practices, which ultimately can serve as a pattern for the way care is provided throughout the nation. There is a growing appreciation of the role that nurse practitioners and certified nurse-midwives play in providing primary care, as well as other vital services.
As health care, the nursing workforce, and the very world around us continue to change, we at ANA know that transformation is also key to our continued success in supporting nurses and the work they do, and in leading the profession. Several months ago, ANA began taking a closer look at who we are and where we want to go. We, along with our state nurses associations, want to make sure that we aren’t just keeping pace with the changes around us but are actually staying ahead of the curve.
We want to ensure our programs, services, and products are as relevant and useful as they can be. And we want to continue to be the strong voice that policymakers and others turn to when it comes to issues around nurses and health care, just as we have been in the healthcare reform debate. To accomplish this, we must become even more strategic in our thinking and actions, and be able to move quickly—using the latest technology tools—to capitalize on any opportunities for nurses and nursing leadership. Although we are still in the initial stages of this process, which in many ways resembles the assessment phase of the nursing process, we are pursuing a rigorous timeline. Some of the discussion at our June business meeting, the ANA House of Delegates, will be around these issues.
We look forward to working with you as ANA continues our transformation into an organization that is even stronger and more capable and that allows you to grow and succeed as a professional nurse—while we all hold true to our history, mission, and values.
Karen Daley, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN
President, American Nurses Association