AAN President's Pages
A mission-driven organizationThis is the last President's Message that I will write for Nursing Outlook, so I want to highlight some evidence of our progress on our strategic plan. Much of what I have to report builds on the work of prior presidents, boards, and staff that laid the foundation for a strong organization and launched some of the initiatives that the current board and staff have moved forward as we focus on our mission of transforming policy and practice through nursing knowledge.
Building healthy communitiesThe Academy's second strategic goal focuses on addressing the broad range of factors that shape the health of individual, families, and communities. I want to share with you three recent developments that align with this goal in the areas of nutrition, violence, and toxic stress in childhood—the three priority areas identified by the board for 2014-2015.
Getting what we pay forOne of my favorite Edge Runner stories was told to me by board member Eileen Sullivan-Marx, PhD, RN, FAAN, now Dean at the College of Nursing at New York University. At the time, she headed the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing's LIFE program called Living Independently For Elders, a Program for All-Inclusive Care of Elders (PACE; Medicare.gov, n.d.), with capitated payments by Medicare and Medicaid. Designed to keep older adults living independently in their homes rather than in nursing homes, PACE was first developed by Jennie Chinn Hansen, PhD, RN, FAAN, another fellow and Edge Runner who founded On Lok in San Francisco.
Creativity in policyAt the October 2014 annual meeting of the Academy, Stephanie Ferguson went to the microphone and challenged the fellows in attendance to be more visibly involved in some of the most important issues of our day, including the expansion of Medicaid and continuation of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Her call is timely, given the continuing need for reforming health care and the changing political landscape.
Wisdom and willIn 2013, the National Research Council confirmed what had become evident to those who conduct comparative analyses of nations' health care systems—the United States ranks poorly on most indicators of health and systems' outcomes but leads other developed nations in health care spending. No wise person would design the health care system we have now. The challenge is whether we have both the wisdom and will to transform our health care system.
Toxic stress in childhood: Why we all should be concernedKaren Cox is the outgoing Secretary and co-lead of an Academy task force on Strategic Goal #2 that addresses the “upstream factors” that affect the health of people. She is an expert in toxic stress in childhood and is leading the Academy's workgroup on this factor. I invited her to coauthor this President's Message with me.
Ask not, what have you done for me lately?I am borrowing from John F. Kennedy's famous line, “Ask not what the Academy can do for you. Ask what you can do for the Academy.” It is a bit of a cliché now but still relevant. The members of the Academy board, committees, and expert panels are contributing their time and talents to advancing the mission of the organization, and most also make annual gifts to the Rheba de Tornyay Fund, recognizing that we are a small but visionary organization that needs more resources than dues provide to move forward on our strategic plan.
Looking upstreamIn the last issue of this journal, I wrote about the imperative for the Academy's second strategic goal—lead efforts, in partnership with others, to address the broad range of factors affecting the health of populations. Although there are data supporting the fact that our nation outperforms other developed nations on health care spending, we trail behind on most leading health indicators (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, 2013). The need to create healthy communities is not new to nursing.
Where and how is health created?Reforming our health care system is necessary but not sufficient for improving the health of the nation.
Diverse voicesThe American Academy of Nursing seeks to be a model organization on diversity and inclusivity. How are we doing? I asked myself that recently when I received feedback from two fellows that gave me pause.
Think globally, act locallyLast year, the board of directors appointed a task force headed by Living Legend Barbara Nichols to examine the Academy's approach to international fellows. Specifically, the board was responding to concerns about how nominations for international fellowship were evaluated, their fellowship fees (which have been at a reduced rate), and membership status that restricted their right to full involvement in the academy (international fellows could not run for office or vote in our elections).
Coming of AgeSince becoming a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, both it and I have matured. In 1991, Loretta Sweet-Jemmott and I were supposed to be standing quietly in place in a hallway while we awaited our turn to take the stage of the hotel ballroom to be inducted as new fellows. Instead, we were reconnecting (we had worked at the same university for a short time) and laughing hysterically about Loretta's enhanced presentation in a gorgeous dress that hid a “wonder” garment. The then chief executive officer (CEO) Janet Heinrich had to come by and tell us to be quiet.