The Interview: American Nurses Association President Pamela F. Cipriano

Jennifer Thew, RN, April 1, 2018

The American Nurses Association president talks empowerment, advocacy, and how nurses can shape the future delivery of healthcare.

This article first appeared in the March/April 2018 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD
Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD
Courtesy of: Julia Rendleman-The Verbatim Agency

Over her 41-year nursing career, Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association in Silver Spring, Maryland, has held positions spanning the bedside, the boardroom, and beyond.

She has worked as a healthcare consultant, a nursing faculty member, a chief nursing officer, and a chief clinical officer. Now, as the ANA's 35th president, she uses her broad spectrum of experience to give voice to the nation's nurses.

In her words, Cipriano's career reflects how the nursing profession has changed over the years. In addition to nurses pursuing more education—Cipriano herself has a PhD in executive nursing administration—RNs are taking on more leadership roles at the point of care, in healthcare organizations, and in the community.

Gone are the days of submission and passivity where nurses waited for direction from physicians. Cipriano says nurses are now more empowered than in the past.

Today's nurses can be found leading care teams, driving care coordination, and working in advanced practice roles. They are also using their skills to move the healthcare delivery system from a hospital-centric environment to one that emphasizes care in outpatient and community settings.

Nurses bring more to the table than clinical skills, says Cipriano—their knowledge and experiences put them in prime positions to advocate for both patients and the profession.

As ANA president, her role could be described as the ultimate advocacy position, but nurses at all levels and in all settings can effect great change if they commit to making their voices heard, she says.

In fact, the ANA has declared 2018 the Year of Advocacy. The campaign's tagline, "Inspire, innovate, influence," sums up Cipriano's view of what nurses can do for patients, the nursing profession, the healthcare system, and society as a whole.

Cipriano recently spoke with HealthLeaders about the power and potential of nurses. Here are some highlights from that conversation.

On the value of nurses:

I think the message is nurses are really your secret weapon—whether it's in the home, whether it's in the community, whether it's in the hospital—and we are underutilizing their expertise. It's important to recognize this from a patient outcome [standpoint and an economic one].

The care that nurses provide is both what is obvious and a whole lot more that is not apparent.

Jennifer Thew, RN

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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