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You make a difference

Author(s): Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN President, American Nurses Association

Honoring nurses and our profession in May

This Nurses Month, we honor RNs for their skillful, creative, and compassionate care during the most significant public health crisis in our time. We hear countless stories of nurses’ impact on the frontlines of the pandemic—transforming cultural centers into surge facilities, caring for individuals in temporary shelters who are waiting for COVID-19 test results, or volunteering in vaccination clinics. Nurses are there to stand in for family members at the bedside or celebrate a patient’s recovery. It’s fitting that the theme of Nurses Month—expanded from one week of celebration to a full month—is “You Make a Difference.” 

In the same spirit, the World Health Organization and the American Nurses Association (ANA), along with global colleagues, acknowledged nurses’ contributions during the pandemic when extending the Year of the Nurse into 2021. And recognition continues to be one of the weekly topics during Nurses Month, along with professional development, community engagement, and self-care.

As we consider nurses’ response to the myriad challenges created by COVID-19, we recognize your commitment to education and training to enhance patient care. To support your professional development, ANA has put together webinars and quick videos on caring for patients with COVID-19, with topics that include nursing interventions for disease progression, vaccine development, and the use and reuse of personal protective equipment. More than 400,000 individuals have viewed these educational courses, which you can find at nursingworld.org/coronavirus. In addition, with a heightened emphasis on infection prevention and control, ANA has joined with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other partners to develop infection prevention and control training in Project Firstline (nursingworld.org/practice-policy/project-firstline).

To celebrate Nurses Month, tune in to our free webinar introducing the recently published Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, 4th Edition. Along with the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements, these foundational documents have been a guiding light for the profession, informing our nursing practice and now leading us into the future. The 4th edition incorporates the influence of technology and innovation on nursing, as most recently demonstrated by the pandemic. A new professional advocacy standard addresses the varied types of influence nurses exert in their practice and communities. Other updates underscore our aim for nurses to have full practice authority at all levels and to explore competent levels of nursing practice and professional performance. We thank all nurses who have paved the way by establishing and refining these documents. (Register at anayearofthenurse.org/nurses-month-webinar.)

Given the physical and mental fatigue nurses have endured during the pandemic, your health and well-being are of utmost importance. The risk of burnout is high and, sadly, we know that nurses are at a greater risk of suicide than the general public. Please don’t hesitate to use the free tools and resources to support mental health, including the Suicide Preve­ntion Resource compiled by nurses (nursingworld.org/practice-policy/nurse-suicide-prevention). You also can find virtual support systems to help you build resilience, manage stress, and overcome COVID-19–related trauma through the Well-being Initiative, launched by the American Nurses Foundation (nursingworld.org/thewellbeinginitiative). Take care of yourself and reach out to your colleagues who may be struggling—it’s another way we can all make a difference.

In 2021, we have additional cause for celebration as we mark milestone anniversaries across the ANA Enterprise: 125 years for ANA, 30 years for the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and 25 years for OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. We salute all nurses past and present for their contributions to our shared mission: making the world a healthier place through the power of nursing.

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Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN

President, American Nurses Association

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