The American Nurses Association released an updated “Nurses Bill of Rights” during National Nurses Week, aimed at affirming the role nurses play in the healthcare profession amidst an increasingly complex care landscape.
“It is vitally important to acknowledge and respect the rigor of nursing practice as both an art and science,” said the ANA in a statement accompanying the list of rights.
“To that end, and for their indisputable contributions to society, education, public health, science and the health of all communities, the following rights are non-negotiable for all nurses to meet the increasing complexities of care delivery,” it continued.
ANA representatives told Healthcare IT News that the pandemic has highlighted and often worsened the issues nurses face.
“Risk of injuries on the job, exposure to infectious diseases, workplace violence and staffing concerns are just some of the unchecked work environment challenges that have plagued the nursing profession for years and were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said in a statement.
“Providing nurses the ability to harness the power of technology is especially critical as our nation’s healthcare system recovers from the pandemic. We must also tap into their deep understanding and unmatched perspective on what works in our healthcare system and what doesn’t work,” they continued.
“Let’s lean into nurses to exchange ideas, conduct research and forge innovative technological advancements that improve patient outcomes, increase access to equitable care and allow nurses to provide their patients the highest level of care,” they said.
WHY IT MATTERS
As the ANA explained, the Bill of Rights can act as a tool to facilitate discussions about workplace concerns. Although it is not a legal document, it can help guide development of organizational policy or focus conversations between nurses and employers about employment contracts and agreements, said the association.
“The Bill of Rights was designed to support nurses in an array of workplace situations including unsafe staffing, mandatory overtime and health and safety issues such as needlestick injuries, workplace violence and latex allergies,” said the ANA.
The rights are outlined as follows:
- Full authority for nurses to practice at the top of their license, credentials and professional standards without barriers, and in a manner that fulfills their obligations to society, patients and communities.
- Continuous access to training, education, professional development, as well as for nurses to be recognized pathway as leaders and in roles to direct shared decision-making on nursing practice, resources, staffing concerns and patient safety issues.
- Work and practice in environments that ensure respect, inclusivity, diversity and equity with leaders who are committed to dismantling systemic racism and addressing racist behaviors that negatively impact nurses of color.
- Just care settings that facilitate ethical nursing practice, standards and care in accordance with the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements.
- Safe work environments that prioritize and protect nurses’ well-being and provide support, resources, and tools to stay psychologically and physically whole.
- Freedom for nurses to advocate for their patients and raise legitimate concerns about their own personal safety without the fear of retribution, retaliation, intimidation, termination [or] ostracization.
- Competitive compensation consistent with nurses’ clinical knowledge, experience, and professional responsibilities and that recognizes the value and rigor of nursing practice.
- Collective and individual rights for nurses to negotiate terms, wages and work conditions of their employment in all practice settings.
“Nurse educators can use the Bill of Rights when addressing nursing issues and trends and professional practice topics, in certain aspects of discussion about clinical practice, or in an introductory nursing course,” said ANA leaders.
THE LARGER TREND
The COVID-19 pandemic has provoked renewed attention on the issue of nurse burnout and workplace safety.
A report from March, for instance, found that a whopping 90% of nurses are considering leaving the profession next year. And while technology can be helpful in terms of easing workflow and ameliorating burdens, it can also contribute to burnout.
ON THE RECORD
“Employers can refer to the document to help them understand what nurses need in their places of work to fulfill professional responsibilities,” said ANA leaders in a statement. “As a document developed and approved by practicing nurses, the Bill of Rights can be a reliable basis for dialogue to resolve concerns nurses may have about ensuring work environments that support professional practice.”
Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.