HL20: AnnMarie Papa, DNP, RN—Protecting Nurses

Cheryl Clark, December 13, 2011

In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we profile individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Some are longtime industry fixtures; others would clearly be considered outsiders. Some are revered; others would not win many popularity contests. All of them are playing a crucial role in making the healthcare industry better. This is the story of AnnMarie Papa, DNP, RN.

This profile was published in the December, 2011 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

 "Yes, we're here to care for patients, but we also have to care for each other."

It wasn't until 2009 that senior hospital administrators really began paying attention to the prevalence of hospital violence, especially that which occurred in the emergency department, says AnnMarie Papa, DNP, RN, CEN, NE-BC, FAEN, president of the Emergency Nurses Association.

That's the year ENA researchers published their first survey of emergency nurses' reports of violent attacks while on the job. The paper was accepted for publication in the Journal of Nursing Administration, which meant that the C-suite who read it would learn some disturbing statistics.

The survey revealed that of 3,465 registered nurses who work in EDs or trauma centers in every state, one in four had experienced physical violence more than 20 times in the past three years, and almost one in five had experienced verbal abuse more than 200 times during the same period. Violence against nurses was said to be "prevalent."

"It was a landmark study," says Papa, who as ENA president-elect helped generate widespread awareness. "We published in that journal because we wanted to get the attention of the hospital's senior administrators, and it was an eye opener for them. Once they read this, they said, 'Wow, this is something we really need to take a look at.'"


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