Nursing organizations adopt 2004 platforms

Foreign nurse recruiting supported

Two of the nation’s leading nursing organizations, the Atlanta-based American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) and the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), a subsidiary of the American Hospital Association, have unveiled their policy platforms.

Key elements of the AAOHN platform include:

  • All-Hazard Preparedness: AAOHN supports policy that includes the workplace as a primary delivery system for responding to and mitigating human, natural, and technological public health threats. In addition, the association advocates for policy that positions occupational health nurses as integral in providing education, training, assessment, prevention, and response to these threats.
  • Confidentiality of Health Information: AAOHN champions the need for comprehensive federal legislation to provide universal security standards and safeguards that protect the integrity and confidentiality of personal health information.
  • Health Promotion, Wellness, and Disease Prevention: AAOHN supports funding and resources to enhance the research base required to further develop the field of health promotion and disease prevention and to explore the strategies to integrate lifestyle improvement programs into national policy.
  • Nurse Licensure Compact: AAOHN supports the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which is a mutual recognition model where the nurse’s state of residence issues the nursing license, and it is then recognized by other states that have entered into the interstate compact.
  • Quality of Work Environments for Nurses: AAOHN supports a number of initiatives that focus on strategies to foster healthful and safe work environments for nurses and all health care professionals.
  • Workplace Violence Prevention: AAOHN is working to address the issue of workplace violence by lobbying Congress for funding to implement an outreach program that will provide prevention techniques to businesses.

Highlights of AONE’s policy

• Foreign Nurse Recruitment: AONE supports the freedom of choice that permits qualified professional nurses to practice in an environment where they can provide quality patient care and enjoy the quality of life to which they may aspire. AONE also supports the lawful entry of nurses from foreign countries to work in the United States and its territories provided that they meet all federal qualifications for entry and practice. It is incumbent upon institutions that recruit foreign nurses to foster an environment that is culturally sensitive and supportive as these nurses are assimilated into the American health care system. Furthermore, it is the position of AONE that the global nature of the shortage makes it unethical for the wholesale recruitment of professional nurses, which can jeopardize the health and safety of indigent populations.

• Mandatory Overtime: It is the view of AONE that mandatory overtime is the staffing vehicle of last resort, limited to crisis situations that would put patients in danger of not receiving the basic requirements of the safe care that they require. AONE is opposed to legislation prohibiting the use of mandatory overtime at both the state and federal level with regard to the registered professional nurse. It is the view of AONE that the issue is best addressed within the institutional setting. Mandatory overtime is but one aspect of the nursing shortage and its usage should be monitored and tracked.

• Mandated Staffing Ratios: AONE approaches this issue from the perspective of the employer and in the context of our social contract with the community. From this perspective, AONE members are responsible for managing patient care and assuring that every patient is cared for in an environment that is focused on quality and safety. Because staffing is a complex issue composed of multiple variables, mandated staffing ratios, which imply a "one-size-fits-all" approach, cannot guarantee that the health care environment is safe or that the quality level will be sufficient to prevent adverse patient outcomes. It is for this reason that AONE does not support mandated nurse-staffing ratios.

Furthermore, it is the position of AONE that mandatory nurse staffing ratios will only serve to increase stress on a health care system that is overburdened by an escalating national and international shortage of registered professional nurses and has the potential to create a greater risk to public safety.

AONE strongly supports research to identify the components of appropriate levels of nurse staffing. Hospitals and other health care institutions should look to evidenced-based and outcomes-driven research that includes patient acuity in the development of staffing guidelines. Institutions also should consider the entire ethical spectrum of the ratio debate and the potential consequences of the growing nursing shortage and the inability to meet or maintain mandated staffing levels.

For copies of the AAOHN and AONE policy statements, visit their web sites: www.aaohn.org and www.hospitalconnect.com.