AAN President's Pages
Courage and conviction: The Academy's next 50 yearsCourage is one of the core values of the American Academy of Nursing—and it is as vital and essential in 2023, when we celebrate the Academy's 50th Anniversary, as it was when a group of dedicated nurse leaders visualized and established the organization in 1973 as part of the American Nurses Association (ANA). Courage also fueled the redefinition of our relationship with ANA in 1999, when the Academy secured its own organizational status while staying in partnership with ANA.
A story, serendipity, and the power to actIn my first column for Nursing Outlook as President, I wrote about the power that a story can have on us, both emotionally and intellectually. I chose this topic because reflection is the first theme of the Academy's 50th Anniversary arch. Now, as 2022 comes to a close, I want to share a few reflections from fellows of the American Academy of Nursing who have chosen to honor me with their story.
Can we calm the sea? A reflection on steadying the nursing workforce“The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.” ― Vladimir Nabokov
If not us, then who? nursing and climate changeNursing has a critical role in addressing the looming public health challenge of climate change and its associated—and inequitable—adverse health consequences. The nursing profession is essential in communicating with patients, families, communities, and societies, as well as legislators and policymakers, to recognize and respond to climate change. The Academy's policy role positions us to take on the important work from the unique perspective of nurses as scientists, educators, caregivers, managers, and leaders as we identify and implement collective solutions.
Bolstering our commitment to equity and anti-oppressionI agree with the Academy's Diversity and Inclusivity (D&I) Committee: equity, diversity, and inclusivity must live not only within our organization and across our Fellowship but also be reflected in our work. Our newly adopted Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI) Statement (Academy, 2021), coupled with our strategic plan, will serve as our North Star, advancing our vision of healthy lives for all people. This is hard work, and we must do it: taking an active stance every day to dismantle oppressive and racist practices, wherever they occur in our professional environments, our communities, or globally.
To learn: The power of reflectionReflection can take many forms—writing, journaling, taking a long walk, daydreaming, talking with friends or colleagues—and it can provide us with insights that bring clarity and wisdom. It can spur a new direction or lead to a resolution for change. Reflection can also bring forth a wide range of emotions. Unlike the other kind of reflection— where light, sound, heat, or an image is sent back and not absorbed— our reflections often bring with them strongly felt sentiments. As the American Academy of Nursing (Academy) launches this first year of a three-year, 50th Anniversary commemoration, our theme for 2022 is reflection.
What's in a Story? Looking Back to Move ForwardFor those who do not know me well, know that story telling is a strong part of who I am. From my perspective, stories honor not only a moment in time but also the people involved. Stories help us contextualize and emotionally connect to an experience outside of ourselves. As we go through life, we know that some stories bring us joy, while others caused us pain. It is the experience of this range of emotions, particularly through personal retellings, that is so important to build our character, heal our scars, and create meaningful human connections.
The presidential partnership: leaving a trailThe words change and transition are used frequently to describe a shift in focus or organizational necessity. However, as leaders, we know these words are not synonyms. According to the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL, 2020), “Change is defined as the situations and occurrences that impact organizations and individuals (CCL, 2020).” Change encompasses the adaptation from the previous way of doing things to the new way and should be met with flexibility. “Transition is the internal psychological process of adapting to a new situation, (CCL, 2020).
New Questions, More Questions, The Same Questions: How Covid - 19 is Impacting the ProfessionAlpha, Beta, Delta, and now the Mu variant continue to cloud how we will see past the grip the pandemic has on the public's health, safety, and economic stability. Variants create more questions. And while we are building a tool chest filled with knowledge, each time one variant spreads across a country, the path forward is never immediately clear. What remains certain for the profession— amongst this uncertainty— is that attention must be placed on investing in the nursing workforce. From supporting nurses’ physical, mental, and emotional health to considering education and training in the future, there is a need to refocus and seek more data.
Sustaining Visibility: Environment, Perception, and EquityBeing visible, or the state of being seen by another person, is dependent upon two main factors. The first is the environment through which the object or person is being viewed, and the second is the ability of the viewer to perceive and acknowledge the object or person's presence. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the visibility of nurses was perhaps never clearer. The media depicted powerful imagery of nurses on the frontlines, reinforcing the impact of the profession. The environment that nurses and other health professionals found themselves in allowed them to step into the forefront of the public eye amid mass anxiety, uncertainty, and frustration.
Beyond Physical Healing: Centering on Mental and Emotional HealthAs the country continues its COVID-19 vaccine rollout efforts, Americans are eagerly and anxiously tracking vaccine availability and vaccination rates in their states. To date, 47% of the total U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose, and 37% are fully vaccinated (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). The exact timeframe when the U.S. is expected to reach herd immunity varies, with some experts cautiously optimistic that we will reach a turning point this summer (Conlen, 2021).