Thirteen WSNA voting delegates attended the American Nurses Association (ANA) Membership Assembly in Washington, D.C. on June 10 and 11. WSNA delegates were instrumental in strengthening ANA’s language supporting safe staffing standards (ratios), and WSNA member David Jacob Garcia was elected to the ANA Board of Directors in the staff nurse position.
The Membership Assembly is the governing and official voting body of ANA. The proceedings included dialogue sessions and votes on racial reckoning, nurse staffing, addressing verbal and physical workplace violence, and the impact of climate change on health.
On June 11, the voting representatives of the Membership Assembly unanimously voted “yes” for the association to embark on a racial reckoning journey to acknowledge its past actions that have caused irreparable harm to nurses of color as well as ethnic-minority nursing organizations, and that persist today.
Plans for the multi-phase journey of accountability, healing and reconciliation begin with the official racial reckoning statement approved by the Membership Assembly to be released later this summer.
ANA also is a co-lead of the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing (the Commission, which seeks to address racism in nursing within the broader profession. ANA is a partner with the Commission on nationwide surveys, focused listening sessions, foundational reports, as well as brief lectures and case-based learnings.
Assembly representatives also voted on the following:
The Assembly recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated long-standing nurse staffing issues and considered changes to existing ANA policy related to nurse-to-patient ratios.
Assembly representatives approved a recommendation proposed by WSNA to support enforceable, setting-specific safe patient standards including ratios. The final recommendation, after additional amendments, is 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 the constituent and state nurse associations to develop further details regarding standards, implementation and enforcement, along with supporting development of evidence-based standards for all nursing specialties.
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.
Discussions included concerns that verbal abuse is often overlooked with hospitals focusing on physical assaults. Verbal abuse can be a risk factor for physical violence. Delegates also pushed for practice and policy recommendations that are appropriate for community settings, such as schools, community health centers, public health facilities and similar places where workplace violence can occur.
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.
In addition to electing WSNA member David Jacob Garcia to the staff nurse position on the Board of Directors, delegates elected Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, of the Oregon Nurses Association as ANA’s next president. Mensik has more than 25 years of nursing experience in a variety of settings ranging from rural critical access hospitals and home health to hospital administration and academia. Dr. Mensik and all other newly elected leaders will begin January 1, 2023.