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American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)

Professional Nursing Association

AACN is the world’s largest specialty nursing organization that offers support to acute and critical care nurses. AACN exists since the 1969 year and works in a coalition with the Nursing Community Coalition, American Nurses Association’s Organizational Affiliates, Critical Care Societies Collaborative, and the Coalition for Patients’ Rights. AACN manages most of the advocacy initiatives for nurses and patients in collaboration with other organizations. For example, AACN works together with the Nursing Workforce Development Programs and the National Institute of Nursing Research. The goal is to make sure that federal funding remains strong. Moreover, AACN is a continuous member of the Nurses on Boards Coalition (NOBC), which helps nurses build leadership skills and participate in the work of other healthcare-related commissions. These are only a few examples, based on the evidence stated on the official AACN website.

AACN Advocacy Initiatives

There are several important advocacy initiatives that AACN is promoting. Those advocacies are meant to support nurses and develop better healthcare through collaboration with government agencies. For example, AACN works with Nursing Community Coalition which provides AACN access to voting opportunities on specific actions. This presentation will be dedicated mainly to the Healthy work environment initiative. HWE is crucial for the outcome of the patient’s hospital experience and the nurse’s work efficiency and satisfaction. As stated by researchers, there is a piece of strong positive evidence and increasing positive dynamics concerning the AACN HWE standards implementation (Ulrich et al., 2018).

Healthy Work Environment: key elements

The HWE policy key elements include the AACN’s six essential standards, The AACN Assessment Tool to check and measure following those standards in the particular team and workplace. One more tool is the ACCN HWE guideline which helps to manage the work environment and implement positive changes by providing evidence-based actions.

The six standards are Skilled Communication, True Collaboration, Effective Decision Making, Appropriate Staffing, Meaningful Recognition, and Authentic Leadership. Skilled communication means open and compelling conversation that excludes abuse and intolerance. True collaboration means that every team member contributes to the achievement of common goals by respecting differences. The effective Decision Making principle suggests that nurses must be valued and committed partners in making policies and leading organizational operations. Appropriate Staffing is an effective match between patient needs and nurse competencies. Meaningful recognition states that nurses must be recognized and give honor to each other for the value each brings to the work. Authentic Leadership means the education of nurse leaders and making it possible for nurses to reach professional advancement.

All those principles are elaborated according to evidence. For example, according to McHugh MD (2016), patients in hospitals with poor work environments were 16% less likely to survive in-hospital cardiac arrest. Moreover, evidence of AACN suggests that when Staffing is appropriate more than 75% of the time, nurses report getting more work done on a typical shift. Other AACN collected data says that implementing AACN’s HWE standards can decrease intent to leave one’s position.

Steps to advocate for HWE

To advocate for HWE, each of us can implement several steps. First, collectively with your team, measure your HWE against the six standards with the AACN tool. Next, download and analyze your HWE assessment report. After that, your next step will be “take action”. You can improve the health of your work environment by using the HWE Standards booklet to receive evidence-based tips for organizations and individuals. As said by Jenna Taylor, CVICU change nurse in Medical City Dallas Hospital (Texas), the key to HWE are the 4 H’s: Be Happy, Be Humble, Be Helpful, Be Honest”. The AACN guideline to create the HWE provides practical tools to reach this type of work culture and hospital conditions for nurses and patients.

How Can Future Nursing Professionals Support the HWE

There are steps that everyone can take to support the HWE initiative. First of all, AACN is providing various continuing education activities, webinars, journals, and online courses that offer knowledge to enhance better nursing care in general. Moreover, it would be very beneficial for the working environment if both nurses and healthcare organizations learned the six standards of HWE developed by the HWE. The health care organization provides team members with support in positive changes in the work environment while Every team member tries to embrace the proper dynamics in the workplace.

In addition to that, everybody can make a difference by encouraging conversations on HWE topics at the workplace and inspiring colleagues to learn about innovative work environment solutions. In AACN’s Critical Care Nurse Work Environment Study, 55% of survey respondents claimed they would like to leave their current position within the next three years. However, half of the respondents are willing to change the Decision if HWE would be a part of their everyday work lives. To make it easier for everyone to become an advocate for the HWE, AACN provides a free HWE assessment tool to measure the health of your environment. By taking this assessment, each healthcare professional can identify the areas that need development and Implement the AACN HWE standards in the unit.


AACN Standards for establishing and sustaining healthy work environments. Web.

McHugh M.D., Rochman M,F,, Sloans D.M., Berg A, Mancini M. E., Nadkarni V.M., Merchant R.M., Aikenet L.H. (2016). Better nurse staffing and nurse work environment associated with increased survival of in-hospital cardiac arrest patients. Med Care, 54(1), 74-80.

Ulrich, B., Barden, C., Cassidy, L., & Varn-Davis, N. (2019). Critical care nurse work environments 2018: findings and Implications. Critical Care Nurse, 39(2), 67–84.

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StudyKraken. "American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)." August 30, 2022.


StudyKraken. 2022. "American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)." August 30, 2022.


StudyKraken. (2022) 'American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)'. 30 August.

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