The representatives of ANA’s Membership Assembly, the governing and official voting body of the American Nurses Association (ANA) have acted on compelling and critical issues that greatly impact the nursing profession and the health of global populations. More than 300 nurses, observers, and other leaders attended a two-day governance meeting in Washington, DC, June 10-11. Eligible representatives elected national leaders including the next national president and acted on nurse staffing, verbal abuse and workplace violence, and climate change. (story continues below)
* 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 its 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 workplace violence (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 International Council of Nurses, 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.