Looking back on ANA’s work and presidency.
THE PRESIDENCY of the American Nurses Association (ANA) is one of the most exciting, challenging, and rewarding roles in American nursing. It has been my privilege to serve ANA and the registered nurses of this country for the past 4½ years. Starting out, it was a bit of a mystery tour—sometimes feeling like a crusade, and sometimes like an unprecedented opportunity to shape nursing and healthcare history.
Settling into the role in June 2014, my first thoughts were to identify areas of focus for my presidency. My highest priority was to make nurses “top of mind” so that whenever any major direction or decision about healthcare was being contemplated by our nation’s government or other healthcare leaders, nurses and ANA were immediately the “go-to source” for information and input. We would be at the table. Other priorities were to partner with consumers, address workforce challenges, engage younger generations of nurses, and advance solutions to improve safety and quality.
Then the Ebola virus disease hit U.S. shores. ANA acted quickly to protect America’s nurses by providing education and advocacy. We became the trusted resource for nurses and the public, demanding evidence-based guidance for protective equipment while reducing the fear that gripped the nation.
After several months, we returned to “business as usual”—addressing the unpredictability of healthcare today. We ushered in the Year of Ethics with a revised Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements, which reflected changes in practice resulting from new technology and emerging dilemmas. When a Navy RN faced a dishonorable discharge after refusing to force-feed detainees at Guantanamo Bay, we supported his ethical duty to protect an individual’s autonomy and helped influence a change in policy within the military health system.
Our work to reinforce an ethical and healthy work environment took shape with a professional issues panel, which laid bare the problems and recommended solutions for nurses and employers to reduce violence, incivility, and bullying in the workplace. The #EndNurseAbuse campaign continues to advance that work by encouraging reporting, prevention, and mitigation of violence against nurses.
We also learned just how much nurses cared about their profession—and the strength of our public support— when the mocking of a Miss America contestant, Kelley Johnson, RN, by hosts of The View caused international outrage. She had performed a monologue about her care of a patient, while wearing scrubs and a stethoscope. Nurses immediately galvanized on social media in support of #NursesShareYourStethoscopes and other messages, while 17 companies paused their advertising, demonstrating solidarity in support of the nation’s nurses.
Over the past 3 years, ANA has made great strides addressing the issues important to all nurses—improving safety and quality of care; promoting healthy and ethical work environments to combat the stress that leads to emotional exhaustion, burnout, and moral distress; and advocating for safe staffing. We’ve been working to advance the profession and drive personal successes for all nurses, from novice to expert, as well as pursuing opportunities for more nurses to assume leadership roles.
ANA’s Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Grand Challenge is now in full force, helping nurses become healthier, serve as role models, and improve the nation’s health. We’ve been invited to the table to address moral resilience and clinician well-being. We’ve become a goto resource for protecting access to care, whether it’s underserved Americans or children and families at our borders. Our 2018 theme of advocacy demonstrates that this responsibility to protect and speak out doesn’t take a break. We fight with passion for our rightful place to influence the future of healthcare. We persevere because we know change doesn’t come quickly or easily. And we have a purpose: healthcare for all. I’m thankful for the opportunity to leave an imprint on our legacy of advocacy and look forward to our continued progress.
Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
President, American Nurses Association