This post is written by guest writer and 2nd year MEPN, Matthew Parker
Second year MEPN students have the unique opportunity to research and participate with local, professional nursing organizations. A professional nursing organization serves as the arena for a diverse collection of nursing professionals to come together in the interest of influencing policy and advancing the profession. The Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL) is one such organization with a strong local chapter and rich history of driving healthcare innovation. The work of this organization is in direct alignment with the current MEPN curriculum and course objectives of improving health care delivery, assessing community health problems, and developing as a nurse leader. I was pleased to accept invitation to the ACNL Regional Meeting entitled, “Harnessing the Winds of Change,” as such a gathering provides insight into the power that nurse leaders hold in regard to influencing the future of healthcare.
The meeting began with a brief overview on the strong legacy of the ACNL, followed by their vision and goals for the future. Current goals of the organization include a successful launch of the Executive Leadership Academy, continuation of philanthropic programs, and increasing membership/member involvement. The Executive Leadership Academy of the ACNL will focus on personal development plans for new nurse leaders and provide resources to lead in the hospital and in the community. With a direct connection to philanthropic efforts, the organization will continue to fund scholarship programs, leadership development, and research. All efforts to influence and educate are made possible by growing membership and member involvement in their local chapters. A member can be an established nurse leader, a Registered Nurse advancing into a leadership role, new graduate, nursing student, or anyone with a direct connection to nurse leaders in the hospital or community. Through a professional organization, a nurse at any level has the opportunity to speak up to influence the delivery of care.
At the Regional Meeting, there was great discussion of specific issues related to community health, specifically the findings of the Community Health Needs Assessment, 2018. I found this to be very intriguing/relevant since many MEPN clinical groups have had great exposure to the behavioral health/homeless issues impacting our city. The issues were laid out on the table and the challenge was presented to all nursing organizations to come together in support of initiatives that would address community health.
The Association of California Nurse Leaders is extremely reputable and has been effective and influential over the last 40 years. Their value is evidenced by increasing membership and successful action taken by local chapters and statewide groups alike. In the last 10 years, the ACNL has produced the Better Educated Nursing Workforce Toolkit, the Quality and Patient Safety Toolkit and published Surviving and Thriving: Your First Job as an RN. These three resources are available to any nurse interested in either building upon years of clinical experience or establishing oneself in the healthcare community. The organization continues to collaborate with many California nursing schools and the BRN to support advanced degree opportunities, scholarships, and the voice of new graduates in regard to workforce issues. In addition, the ACNL has collaborated to defeat Proposition 45 (insurance commissioner authority over health plans) and Prop 46 )increaseMedical Injury Compensation Reform Act- MICRA cap). This effective advocacy, with participation in television ads, has strengthened the voice of the ACNL and established a presence outside of nursing. Through their focus on education, philanthropy, current healthcare legislation, and collaborative partnerships, the Association of California Nurse Leaders will continue to advance nursing practice, innovation, and quality healthcare for decades to come.
The ACNL is a wonderful example of nursing taking care of its own profession. As an aspiring nurse, I am inspired by others taking action and demonstrating a passion for, and a commitment to the work they do. I am grateful to be joining this allied community and I am confident my voice will be heard along with the many others. Through the ACNL, or any other professional nursing organization, one would feel the support and bond within the nursing community to effectively fuel the fire of change.