Newly elected American Nurses Association (ANA) President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, recently sat down with The American Nurse to discuss her vision for ANA and how nurses can help transform health care.
You’ve shared your perspective through your columns in American Nurse Today; what else would you like nurses to know about you?
I am a strong believer in nurses as decision-makers – whether it is at the national level for changes in health policy, at the bedside, in their local community or even in their family circle. We have an incredible capacity to help people understand what’s happening in health care and to provide excellent direction for the health care transformation that has to occur in this country.
On a personal note, I’ve experienced nursing in many roles – as a staff nurse, clinical nurse specialist, faculty member, nurse manager, chief nursing officer and chief operating officer. I’ve had many opportunities to lead and help develop others.
Who or what influenced you to become a nurse leader?
When I was in my diploma program, I became very active in the Philadelphia chapter of the National Student Nurses Association. I attended the NSNA national convention in Salt Lake City during my second year of nursing school. I ran from the floor and was elected first vice president. I then became president of NSNA. I knew that it was going to be really important to be a leader because that’s where change happens.
As I became a staff nurse and then a clinical nurse specialist, I believed in the power and influence that comes from having expert knowledge. However, I also recognized that so much of the decision-making fell to those in top management. I believed my leadership experience at NSNA, and then in ANA through appointed and elected positions prepared me to take on greater responsibility. I entered my first management role knowing it was critically important to advocate for staff – for their work environment, scope of practice, pay and benefits, and to advance their careers through education and development.
What are your top priorities at ANA?
I want to maintain and continue to strengthen ANA’s marquee programs and core strengths: political advocacy, our efforts around safe staffing and healthy work environments, and exercising our rights to control our profession and practice to the full extent of our education and licensure.
I also want to focus on membership growth and retention. I strongly believe in the old saying, “There’s strength in numbers.” So it’s vitally important that we pursue not only our traditional recruitment channels, but also appeal to nurses in all roles, specialties, settings and generations, including educators and administrators who are well positioned to spread the word about the importance of ANA to students, new graduates and their staff. We also need to reach out to more specialty nurses associations to join us as organizational affiliates and create options for other organizations with nurse members to have a relationship with ANA. It’s a great way to unite nurses around a common purpose.
And, we need to position nurses to exert greater influence in the transformation of health care. We need to move beyond understanding that the public has consistently voted us the most trustworthy to capitalizing on that position with consumer advocacy groups. Nurses are good strategists, problem solvers and decision makers and we’re already committed to the National Quality Strategy – the triple aim of improving care, improving health and lowering costs. It’s very important for ANA to make sure nurses are in prime positions and key decision-making groups so our voice is there at every turn.
Why do you think it’s important for nurses to be part of ANA?
It’s important for us to have a united voice, and ANA represents that voice. Again thinking about strength in numbers, it’s important for us to be able to accelerate change that is good for the American people. We need to have as many nurses as possible united under the ANA umbrella to be able to do that. Ultimately being a member of ANA allows nurses to have a voice at the local, regional, state and national level, which gives us the power to influence change.
ANA also provides a whole array of benefits that are really important for nurses professionally and personally.
Do you have any final thoughts or message for nurses?
Optimism. We are making a number of strides particularly as we’re working with community leaders to advance the goals of the Future of Nursing report. Many of our members around the country are the leaders in action coalitions that are making sure we stay true to the mantra of “leading change and advancing health.” So it’s important for us to look at all these activities as part of our commitment to improving health care in this country.
ANA is there taking the lead, and we need all of our members to help make changes in our communities, our own professional lives and in our work environments if we want to truly achieve a new direction in health care.