Resolutions were passed and officers were elected, but this year’s biennial American Nurses Association convention held earlier this month may be more known for what didn’t happen.
For Colorado health professionals, one major event was the election of Lola M. Fehr as ANA treasurer. Fehr is president of Fehr Consulting Resources in Greeley and treasurer of the Colorado Nurses Association.
Fehr said it is her deep belief in the mission of ANA that drove her to run for a national office.
"I do believe the American Nurses Association is the best way to serve the nursing community," she said.
"The ANA is the largest nurses union, even though a lot of nurses don’t believe the union is the best way to go."
While Fehr’s election to the office of treasurer did happen, a revision of the ANA bylaws did not occur. Fehr said there was controversy concerning the bylaws revision and that in the end, delegates felt it best to hold off for now.
"That did not happen because there was not enough time for people to sit down and talk about it," Fehr said. "But there was a push to get it through."
Among the Philadelphia convention accomplishments include resolutions pertaining to the nursing profession and disaster preparedness, implications of the mature-experienced workforce, core ideology, envisioned future and 2002-2003 strategic goals and the profession’s response to the problem of addictions and psychiatric disorders in nursing.
While the nursing profession is fully committed to helping in times of disasters without being asked, problems have emerged in recent experiences with mass casualty disasters that, according to the ANA, demonstrated a number of pervasive systems barriers to effective coordination of nursing response.
A resolution was passed outlining the ANA commitment:
- To provide leadership among the national nursing organizations to develop nursing response to disaster events.
Help in promoting the participation of RNs in the planning and implementation of disaster preparedness at the local, state and national level.
- Promote education and training to heighten awareness of threats from weapons of mass destruction
- Promote workplace initiatives that support nurse volunteer efforts during periods of local, state, and federal emergencies and disasters
- Support federal legislation that would support nurse volunteer efforts and protect the employment rights of nurses who volunteer and are absent from their positions during emergencies and disasters and promote public education about disaster preparedness and response.
A resolution on the implications of a mature-experienced workforce was passed that would recommend mechanisms that would support the retention of mature and experienced nurses and advocate for development of strategies that support the choice of the mature-experienced nurse to continue practicing and remain professionally active while recognizing the contribution of those nurses who choose to retire.
The resolution also committed the ANA to advocate that the institutional knowledge of the mature-experienced nurse be preserved and that the specialized nurse be retained. ANA also will monitor the issues associated with the aging general workforce of Americans.
The resolution came about due to concerns over the increasing aging of the nursing workforce and the problem of attracting the younger generation into nursing.
When it comes to the ANA’s core ideology, delegates adopted a set of goals and principals to guide the association in this area.
The adopted core purpose is "nurses advancing our profession to improve health for all," while the core values agreed upon by the delegates are excellence, unity, respect and diversity.
The overarching goal was set as "nursing will be the acknowledged unifying force advancing quality health for all."
To address the increasing problem of addictions and psychiatric disorders in the nursing profession, a resolution was passed that will support efforts to educate the public and professional nurses on the prevalence of addiction and psychiatric disorders as diseases for which society and registered nurses are at risk.
Among the efforts include:
- Seek to preserve the current and future workforce by promoting awareness of impaired practice, its prevalence, treatment monitoring and implications for public safety and well-being.
- Increase awareness of the health and patient safety risks associated with untreated addiction and psychiatric illness.
- Expansion of peer assistance to include professional nursing students.
- Support efforts by the United American Nurses and the Commission on Workplace Advocacy to advocate for the rehabilitation and retention of nurses who are living with the disease of addiction and psychiatric disorders.
- Support activities that improve nurses’ access to alternative-to-discipline programs and promote member and affiliate actions that encourage the development and use of alternatives to discipline for health professionals in those states where they currently do not exist.
- Support RN regulatory boards in developing alternative-to-discipline programs for recovering nurses deemed appropriate for such programs.