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Racial reckoning, nurse staffing, workplace violence and climate change are top issues at ANA Membership Assembly

The ANA Membership Assembly, the governing and official voting body of the American Nurses Association (ANA) took historic action today to begin a journey of racial reckoning by unanimously voting yes to adopt a racial reckoning statement from ANA. In addition, Assembly representatives acted on several critical issues including nurse staffing, workplace violence (WPV), and climate change. More than 300 nurses, observers, and other leaders attended the two-day governance meeting in Washington, DC. Eligible representatives also elected national leaders.

The Assembly opened with greetings from International Council of Nurses (ICN) President Pamela Cipriano, PhD, RN, FAAN. In her report, she gave an update on ICN’s Nurses for Peace campaign, which is supporting nurses in Ukraine with cash donations and other assistance. Cipriano encouraged attendees to visit the ICN website to learn more about its efforts to uplift nurses in Europe and other areas who are struggling. “We’ll continue to work and fight for them just as they fight for their countries,” she said. Cipriano is a past president of ANA and a Virginia Nurses Association member.

In her report to the Assembly, ANA Enterprise CEO Loressa Cole, DNP, MBA, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC, conveyed the strength of the organization and its progress toward achieving Enterprise strategic goals.

"Our current strategic plan, which we initiated in 2020 and prepared before the pandemic, is anything but modest. And despite the many challenges of COVID-19, I can stand here and tell you that we are still executing to that plan,” she said. Cole highlighted new ANA Enterprise projects, including Reimagining Nursing, an American Nurses Foundation initiative that has awarded $14 million to 10 pilot projects that “will contribute to fundamentally changing the future of nursing,” said Cole.

Assembly representatives acted on the following:

ANA Racial Reckoning Statement

In 2021, ANA began an intense effort to understand its own history in relation to racism in nursing. The outcome of this examination is a reckoning statement that serves as an apology to nurses of color who have been harmed by decisions and omissions made by ANA that contributed to racism in the profession. With this statement, ANA is launching a sustained effort dedicated to ongoing reckoning and reconciliation.

The voting representatives of the Assembly unanimously voted “yes” for the association to embark on a racial reckoning journey and adopted ANA’s Racial Reckoning Statement. The multi-phase journey will begin with release of the statement and supporting communications later this summer.

Nurse staffing

Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated long-standing nurse staffing issues, the Assembly considered changes to existing ANA policy related to nurse-to-patient ratios. Participants stressed the need for enforceable staffing standards and shared their successes and challenges in implementing various models.

Assembly representatives approved a recommendation that ANA supports safe patient standards including ratios that are acuity and setting-specific as per nursing assessment and enforceable, and that ANA will engage with the constituent and state nurse associations (C/SNAs) to develop further details regarding standards, implementation, and enforcement. Assembly representatives also called on ANA to collaborate with organizational affiliates and C/SNAs to begin to develop evidence-based staffing standards for all nursing disciplines for publication.

Addressing verbal abuse and workplace violence

Often, healthcare stakeholders’ approach to WPV in health care focuses on responses to, and prevention of, physical assaults in hospitals. Discussions often overlook verbal abuse, which can be a risk factor for physical violence. In addition, practice and policy recommendations developed for inpatient settings may not be appropriate for or helpful in community settings, such as schools, community health centers, public health facilities, and similar places where WPV can occur.

Assembly representatives called on ANA to engage key stakeholders to identify, develop and advance strategies resulting in a comprehensive culture of safety and zero-tolerance approach to verbal abuse and violence in all care settings, advance workplace violence prevention priorities in nursing practice and public policy, and advocate for better data collection to inform policy development.

Impact of climate change on health  

Citing statements from ICN, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Nursing, along with editorials from several health care journals on the danger of climate change on global health, representatives proposed that ANA, as the leading nursing organization, should take a strong leadership position in addressing the impacts of climate change on human and population health and help prepare nurses to engage patients in conversations about climate change and its health impacts; impacts which disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations.

To help address the public health crisis caused by climate change, Assembly representatives approved the recommendation that ANA, C/SNAs and individual member division (IMD) include climate crisis and its consequential impact on human and population health as an essential component of their policy platform. Voting representatives also endorsed that ANA revise and establish as an official position the 2008 House of Delegates Statement on Global Climate Change and Human Health. Finally, the representatives called on ANA, C/SNAs and the IMD to promote nursing knowledge on the relationship between climate change and human and population health.

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