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Major Changes at the American Nurses Association

Led by Vice-President Norma O’Mara, delegates from ONA participated in making major changes within the structure of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and improvements in specific policy areas designed to protect both nurses and patients.

Policy affecting nursing practice

Delegates overwhelmingly approved resolutions on hospital nurse staffing, protection of nurses who handle hazardous drugs and prevention of workplace violence. Clearly, nurse staffing in hospitals is as important an issue in other states as it is in Oregon. The action taken in June identifies both the ANA staffing principles and use of nurse to patient ratios as appropriate policies for ensuring patients have access to safe and effective care.

Action taken on workplace violence directs ANA to petition the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop regulations for prevention programs, surveillance and reporting, security and education. ONA’s work on violence prevention which proposed annual reporting of violence incidents is consistent with this action and given that Oregon hospitals and other employers resisted the requirement for reporting, petitioning OSHA is an appropriate and necessary approach.

ANA decision-making and structure.

Delegates were presented options for how ANA will conduct its business in the future. At issue was decision making authority of members and elected leaders. Currently the highest authority is conferred on the House of Delegates which meets every two years and has been as large as 615 delegates. Various proposals for reducing the size of the House of Delegates were discussed prior to the ANA convention with Oregon taking the position that there must be a proportionally representative body within ANA. That means that a state with a larger membership would have a higher number of votes. The final outcome was a "Member Assembly” which will consist of two representative from each state plus one executive staff member in addition to the ANA Board of Directors and representatives of organizational affiliates. Votes of the two representatives will be weighted by the number of members in the state. State nurses associations will also be given the opportunity to bring non-voting participants to this new assembly and the number will be determined by policy.

The Congress on Nursing Practice which has responsibility for development of standards of practice was eliminated and will be replaced by professional issues panels that will be convened for a specific topic. This will allow ANA to be more efficiently responsive to issues as they arise by using nurses across the country with expertise in the area of interest.

Similar to the decision by the ONA House of Delegates in April of this year to reduce the size of the ONA Board of Directors, the size of the ANA Board was also reduced, from 15 to 9. The positions designated for a staff nurse and a recent graduate of an RN licensure program were preserved.

Organizations across the country are evaluating their business model and how they will utilize resources more efficiently and effectively. For ONA and ANA, it becomes even more important because our resources are member dues. Traditional structures and ways of doing business must be continuously analyzed and changed to benefit both individual nurses and the profession as a whole.

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Oregon Nurses Association
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