The ANA applauds AJN for addressing the fact that these are indeed difficult times for the largest single group of health care professionals in the United States, the nation's 2.9 million nurses. Being mindful of that reality, the ANA is fully committed to protecting nursing practice across a broad continuum of care, representing nursing in collective bargaining and in workforce advocacy settings at dozens of quality and policy tables, and strategically focusing on connecting to as many nurses as possible.
The association was falsely characterized as "fighting for its life" in "The Top Nursing Story of 2008: Why Can't Nurses Just Get Along?" On the contrary, regardless of nurses' roles, settings, or specialties, the ANA is the largest and most diverse organization committed to addressing the systemic issues affecting the profession and the nation by developing both unified messages and approaches to problem resolution. Collectively, the ANA and its constituent member associations (CMAs) represent more than 170,000 members. Additionally, the 23 specialty nursing organizations that currently connect to ANA as affiliates represent about 330,000 more RNs.
In this era of change, AJN apparently misunderstands the ANA's relationships with the United American Nurses and the Center for American Nurses. In June 2008 more than 600 delegates attending the ANA House of Delegates made a business decision to open more membership options to RNs. The delegates established new opportunities—"labor affiliate" and "workforce advocacy affiliate"—for national nursing labor organizations and nursing groups dedicated to workforce advocacy to participate in the ANA. The Center for American Nurses is an ANA workforce advocacy affiliate.
The disaffiliation votes AJN referred to occurred with only a small proportion of the members in each CMA deciding for all nurse members, and they violated the ANA's bylaws (voted on by the Hawaii Nurses Association, Michigan Nurses Association, and Minnesota Nurses Association delegates), which require a two-thirds vote of the entire membership before a state nurses association can sever its affiliation with the ANA. The ANA offers those nurses in Hawaii, Michigan, and Minnesota who wish to retain their association membership benefits several new options—individual direct membership, membership in another CMA, or individual affiliate membership. AJN's mention of the disaffiliations that occurred in three other states failed to mention that one occurred 14 years ago, while the other two were in 2001. This is old news, particularly since the ANA subsequently formed CMAs in those states. Today, even with several state associations pulling away due to political differences, the ANA represents nurses and has members in every state in the country.
Finally, the ANA is the only nursing organization, through its National Center for Nursing Quality, that allows hundreds of thousands of nurses to articulate their contribution to patient outcomes and to collect data at the unit level through the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators. Notwithstanding AJN's claims, the ANA's relevance, commitment, and leadership to the nursing profession remain unquestionable.
Rebecca M. Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR
Silver Spring, MD
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