As the early months of a new political landscape unfold, there are many concerns about the future direction of health care and other issues important to registered nurses. This constant shifting of the ground beneath us is unsettling at the very least. But it doesn’t change who we are at our very core, nor diminish our strengths. The renowned scientist Marie Curie once said, “We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves.”
So how do we persevere? The short answer is by keeping our values, principles, and ethical practice at the forefront, staying true to our mission, and by being strong advocates.
Given our sheer numbers and relationships with patients, our potential impact on individuals’ health care, our workplace environments, and the nation’s health can be significant. I use the word potential, because for us to be successful, it’s critical that we continue to have a clear vision and mission, a strategic plan, and goals.
This past summer, the ANA Board of Directors approved ANA’s 2017-2020 strategic plan, which helps drive our mission of “nurses advancing our profession to improve health for all.” Although much has changed since then, we remain committed to that mission—and to our vision of nurses as a “powerful, unified force in engaging consumers and transforming health and health care”—as we move into a new year and face political uncertainties.
One of the three strategic goals outlined in our plan calls for leveraging the ANA Enterprise to position nurses as integral partners in consumers’ health and healthcare journeys. We know that the consumer voice is a powerful driver of new policy, and it has intensified the adaptation of business models in today’s connected world. So consumers’ understanding of our roles, expertise, and values—and their willingness to partner with us—is critical, especially if we want our vision of health and health care to be realized.
Another goal involves stimulating, disseminating, and promoting the innovative work of nurses to power the transformation of health care. Specifically, we want to capitalize on nurses’ innovative work across the care continuum by continuing to identify, prioritize, and disseminate nurse-focused insights, knowledge, and best practices to improve our practice, patient outcomes, and policy. Spotlighting the work of nurses that has effectively addressed disruptive change will lead to increased recognition of the value of nursing. This also reinforces nurses as experts who are highly qualified to be sitting at any table and serving in any post where healthcare and other critical decisions are being made.
Yet another strategic goal calls for increasing the number and engagement of nurses within ANA. A bold future means calling on the power of the nurseforce, which numbers 3.6 million strong. So we are striving to deliver the most relevant programs, services, policies, and advocacy efforts to meet the needs of different segments of the RN population and, in turn, strengthen their connection with us.
We also will build more opportunities for nurses to engage with us in meaningful and varied ways. Through greater engagement, we can extend nursing’s reach and influence. That engagement can take many forms, from advocating for important nursing and healthcare legislation with state and federal officials to participating on ANA professional issues panels that help shape nursing practice and healthcare policy. It also strengthens our voice on issues about which we are passionate, like protecting the vulnerable, safeguarding our practice and communities, and ensuring a safe, quality, accessible healthcare system.
I know nurses will always persevere in ensuring what’s best for patients and the greater public. And I have confidence in our moral compass and ANA’s vision and new strategic plan to strengthen our profession, our voice, and our ability to advocate for all healthcare consumers as well as the 3.6 million nurses who rely on us in this, and any, time of change.
Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
President, American Nurses Association