Futch, Catherine J

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as AAACN President for the coming year. I look forward to working with our staff and volunteer leadership and with each of you.

AAACN is a vibrant organization. Our membership reflects the depth and breadth of involvement of ambulatory care nurses at all organizational levels and in a wide array of settings. Some of you were not able to attend our annual conference in Tampa, FL. We missed you and are looking forward to seeing you next year.

This is my first President’s Message. I would like to use this opportunity to set the stage for the coming year by outlining the challenges we face and the focus we will have as we meet each of our challenges head on.

What Lies Ahead

These are difficult times for us as individuals, as employees and employers, and as American citizens. We are faced with challenges we never envisioned. We are forced now to confront a variety of real and ever present dangers and threats.

Last year, the AAACN Board of Directors identified seven of the major issues facing us in the foreseeable future. We called these our “Mega Issues.” They include expanded life expectancy; ethics and integrity in our clinical and business practice; legislation and regulation; war and bioterrorism; alternative sites of care; financial pressures; and workplace issues. I would like to discuss these with you now.

Expanded life expectancy has afforded us the opportunity to live and work and enjoy a longer life than our great grandparents ever dreamed possible. On the one hand this expanded life expectancy is a positive thing…a chance to live life to its fullest for just a bit longer. But on the other hand, it has created a new set of challenges: growing numbers of frail elderly; the rapidly rising need to provide care in non-hospital settings; and major changes in ambulatory care, home care, assisted living, and skilled nursing care.

Now more than ever, we are forced to face the issues that come near the end of life…the quest for a dignified, pain free and peaceful death. The answers that emerge will be a reflection of our societal core values, ethics, and integrity. Ambulatory care nurses will be at the forefront of the battle to identify and meet those challenges. Each of you will be there doing what it takes to provide for those entrusted to your care. AAACN will be there as the voice of ambulatory care nursing.

Ethics and integrity in our clinical and business practice surface now as a mega issue. Major segments of the health care industry have been challenged with putting in place effective compliance programs. Called for in the Balanced Budget of 1997, the intent is for health care entities to evolve a code of conduct that will serve as the basis for assuring that clinical and business decisions and practices are ethically based and founded on the principles of integrity.

We are not immune to the conduct or the impact of wrongdoing. Theft of medical supplies and equipment, time card abuse, poor quality of care, and failure to protect confidential or protected health information are but a few of the challenges we face every day in our work settings.

We are involved daily in detecting and preventing wrongdoing. As the voice of ambulatory care, AAACN will be involved in continuing to build our reputation as an ethical organization, focused on integrity in our clinical and business practices.

The level of federal and state regulation of health care is greater now than at any time in our country’s history. It has and will affect everyone involved in health care. Large employer groups, like the Leapfrog Group, will continue to work with the health care industry (and exert pressure) to improve the outcomes of care and minimize the opportunity for errors.

AAACN will be at the table in a variety of ways as we work with our corporate sponsors, other professional organizations and the Nursing Organizations Alliance to define new roles, identify new educational needs, and define new sites for the delivery of health care to American citizens.

War and bioterrorism are with us again. War has always been with us in one form or another, but perhaps the stakes have never been quite as high as they are today. Organizations will evolve sophisticated disaster readiness plans that will require nurses to understand the critical role we play in implementing those plans. The essential elements of our response to war and bioterrorism will include readiness, security, responsiveness, communication, and connectivity.

What will be the predominant site for delivery of health care in the next 5, 10, or 15 years? The inpatient setting will meet the needs of patients requiring a high level of care. Ambulatory care will continue to grow at a rapid rate to provide the therapeutic environment for those patients who are not critically ill.

Telehealth will play a significant role in the emerging trends. It will help redefine how nursing care is provided to a large segment of the patient population. Telehealth nurses will contribute to nursing by helping develop a new body of knowledge and skill. AAACN will continue to provide products to meet the growing demand and needs of nurses working in this arena.

Our workplace issues continue to evolve. The shortage of health care professionals will not be short-lived. General discontent with today’s work environment will pose serious challenges for the foreseeable future. The goal is to create a work environment and professional culture that will attract and retain the best and the brightest for our profession. Each of us has a critical role to play in achieving that goal.


Our primary focus in this coming year will require that we answer two critical questions: first, how can we articulate AAACN’s value to our customers, our corporate sponsors, our employers, our professional community, and our members? Failing to do that will put us in jeopardy of losing our members and not retaining and enhancing our status in the professional community.

Second, how can we articulate a strategy to achieve and sustain financial stability within the next 3 years? We are no more immune to financial pressures and strains than are our counterparts in health care and in business. To have fiscal stability we must increase our membership, add and retain our corporate sponsors, and continue to provide meaningful products, services, and value to our members.

Thank you for your support, and for your active involvement in AAACN.

Copyright American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing May/Jun 2003

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