ANA House of Delegates Approves New Structure to Better Meet the Needs of Nation’s Nurses

ANA House of Delegates Approves New Structure to Better Meet the Needs of Nation’s Nurses

A landmark restructuring of the American Nurses, Association (ANA) will allow the organization to be more inclusive and better meet the needs of all nurses. Overwhelmingly passed at the June 25-27 ANA House of Delegates (HOD), the bylaws amendments create new membership categories that provide alternative pathways for organizations and individuals to connect with ANA. The new bylaws also enable the collective bargaining and workplace advocacy “arms” of ANA – United American Nurses (UAN), AFL-CIO and the Commission on Workplace Advocacy (CWPA) – to function as autonomous, but connected, organizations.

“This House of Delegates was a time of rebirth, recommitment and rededication for ANA,” said ANA President Barbara Blakeney, MS, APRN, BC, ANP. “By rising to the challenge for effective change, the ANA has strengthened its ability to do the work of nursing and advocate for the interests of the nation’s 2.7 million nurses.”

Under the bylaws changes, the traditional path of membership – through ANA’s 54 constituent member associations (CMAs) – remains. In addition, ANA strengthened the rights of organizational affiliate members. New categories include associate organizational members (AOMs), individual members and individual affiliates.

“New pathways to membership have big advantages for ANA, individual nurses, and the nursing community because they enable ANA to be more inclusive of all nurses,” Blakeney said. “This translates into more opportune ties for nurses to unite and have their concerns and recommendations heard and addressed at the highest levels of government and within the health care industry. Strengthened numbers and diversity ultimately strengthen ANA’s ability to advocate for nurses and their patients.”

It is through one of the new pathways to membership that the UAN and CWPA, renamed the Center for American Nurses (CAN), attained their independence as autonomous organizations while remaining connected to the ANA. Effective July 1, the UAN and CAN became the first AOMs of the newly-restructured ANA. Both organizations will continue to hold a unique position with the ANA since the new bylaws allow only one AOM for collective bargaining and one AOM for workplace advocacy.

The continued affiliation between ANA and CAN and between ANA and UAN results in seamless representation of the interests of the nation’s nurses. Under the new structure, ANA will focus on the core issues of the profession, including the nursing shortage, appropriate staffing, workplace rights, workplace health and safety, and patient safety/advocacy, and its cornerstone work, ethics and standards, while the newly-independent CAN and UAN will provide workplace services for individual nurses.

The independence of UAN allows it to more quickly represent the organizational and representational needs of staff nurses and to have a greater ability to bring the voice and concerns of organized staff nurses to the media, decision-makers, and the public.

“The staff nurses of the UAN look forward to this unique and powerful partnership with ANA,” said UAN President Cheryl Johnson, BSN, RN. “I firmly believe that the professional expertise and tools available to us through our new and independent relationship with the ANA, together with UAN’s AFL-CIO affiliation, will enable UAN not only to organize more RNs, but also to be a strong voice for the agendas, public policies and decisions that reflect the will of staff nurses nationwide. Through this new relationship, UAN will work to fix the deplorable working conditions that compromise patient care and drive nurses away from the profession.”

The autonomous status of CAN affords the new association the opportunity to work closely with the state nurses associations to meet the personal and professional needs of the individual nurse with regard to workplace environment. It also opens doors for new partnership opportunities with internal and external stakeholders that will serve to spotlight and advance workplace issues.

“We are very pleased with this new relationship with ANA because it will strengthen the voice of nursing,” said CAN Chair Clair Jordan, MSN, RN. “The Center for American Nurses will create a mosaic of products and services to meet the needs of nurses in the workforce today and tomorrow. CAN is on the cutting-edge for creating ways for CMAs and individual nurses to influence and impact our profession.”

These bylaws changes cap a series of initiatives that ANA has undertaken over the past several years to better address the challenges facing the nursing profession. In 1999, the ANA HOD passed bylaws changes creating a national labor entity – UAN – to support ANA’s CMAs in their collective bargaining efforts; creating a task force, which in 2000 became the CWPA (now known as CAN); to develop tools and strategies to support CNAs in developing and enhancing their workplace advocacy programs for individual nurses; creating FedNA as an ANA constituent; and streamlining policymaking regarding regulation and legislation by consolidating the groups that develop ANA policy into the Congress on Nursing Practice and Economics.

Subsequent to that, the ANA Board of Directors, at the request of the CMAs, undertook a strategic planning process that led to the creation of a Futures Task Force that was charged with clarifying the role of the ANA. After defining a future goal for the ANA – “To be the unifying force to advance quality health care for all” – and strategic goals, the task force looked at how to achieve the defined goals, and determined that restructaring should be considered. This process ultimately led to the development and passage of the new bylaws amendments.

“This is truly a historic moment for ANA and nursing,” Blakeney said. “This House has taken action that will not only enable us to better advocate for, and meet the needs of, today’s nurses, but also will set a standard of inclusion and excellence for the nurses of tomorrow. We have begun a process of unification that will strengthen nursing’s voice in various arenas and help further the mission of the profession.”

In addition to offering new membership categories, reflecting the rights of member constituencies to participate in governance, and enabling UAN and CAN to function as autonomous but connected organizations, the new bylaws clarify the distinct roles of the HOD and Board of Directors. In addition, delegates approved a change in the schedule of the House of Delegates. ANA will continue to hold an annual House of Delegates through 2006 and then move to a biennial schedule.

The American Nurses Association is the only full-service professional organization representing the nation’s 2.7 million registered nurses (RNs) through its constituent member associations. The ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Congress and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.

Copyright Alabama State Nurses’ Association Sep-Nov 2003

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