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3 Takeaways For Nurses From the AACN Conference

Analysis  |  By Jennifer Thew RN  
   May 29, 2018

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses' annual conference showcased resilience, telehealth, and nurse development.

Last week, more than 8,500 attendees gathered in Boston for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses' annual National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI). This year's theme "Guided by Why," encourages nurses to be inquisitive, lifelong learners.

AACN President Christine S. Schulman, MS, RN, CNS, CCRN-K, a critical care and trauma clinical nurse specialist at Legacy Health in Portland, Oregon, says the theme also serves as a reminder to stay connected with one’s own principles and beliefs.

"When nurses are 'Guided by Why,' we reaffirm our core purpose and have a guiding beacon for what we can—what we must—do to ensure that every patient gets the excellent care they deserve. And that every nurse has the tools and the skills they need to provide that care," she says in a news release.

In addition to being guided by the question "why," nurses can benefit from pondering other questions, such as: What problem am I seeing? When am I seeing it? Who has a solution? Where can I find more information? And how is the problem being solved?

Following are three snapshots of NTI sessions that may hold answers to those questions as nurses seek solutions to nursing challenges. Additional HealthLeaders Media resources are included after the session descriptions for further study.

  1. An Evolutionary Look at Telehealth, presented by Theresa M. Davis, PhD, RN, NE-BC, CHTP and Steven Dean, MS.

Telehealth could have significant influence on how and where healthcare is delivered, connecting providers and patients separated by geography.

Clinical areas such as critical care, pediatrics, emergency medicine, neurosurgery, behavioral health, and genetic counseling can all be supported by remote telehealth teams. The session described one organization's development of telehealth services and its integration into the EMR.  

More on the topic of telehealth nursing can be found in the HealthLeaders Media article Critical-Care Group Updates TeleICU Standards, which provides an overview of the AACN's newly issued update to its teleICU nursing standards.

The document, "AACN TeleICU Nursing Practice: An Expert Consensus Statement Supporting High Acuity, Progressive and Critical Care," addresses the changes and provides up-to-date findings in this fast-growing area of healthcare.

Another useful resource makes the business case for a telehealth program.

  1. Growing a Culture of Excellence Through an Effective Preceptor Training Program, presented by Shirley Simpson, DNP, RN, CNE, and Rebecca Norton, MSN, RN, CCRN-K

Preceptors are key players in successfully onboarding new staff to a nursing unit. A well-prepared preceptor can foster engagement, clinical knowledge, and professionalism. But strong interpersonal skills are needed to facilitate a fruitful preceptor-mentee relationship.

Fortunately, these skills can be learned.

The session highlighted insights into the development of an evidence-based preceptor program curriculum for preparing preceptors for their roles. It also offered a variety of continuous, quarterly development training topics to support ongoing skill development as well as retain skilled preceptors.

The Preceptor Program Builder by Diana Swihart, PhD, DMin, MSN, APN-CS, RN-BC and Solimar Figueroa, MHA, MSN, BSN, RN is one resource for creating a successful preceptor program. Published by HealthLeaders Media's sister division HCPro, the package includes core tools, best practices, processes, adaptable forms, and training materials for developing and evaluating preceptors, information for preparing preceptors for certification through portfolio-building, and a tested framework for preceptor programs.

  1. Being the Nurse I Really Am: Mindfulness, Ethical Competence and Moral Resilience, presented by Cynda Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN and Sandra Swoboda, RN, MS, FCCM.

Moral distress is a reality for nurses of all specialties. It can undermine integrity, lead to burnout, and jeopardize patient care. According to the presenters, nurses must develop skills in mindfulness, ethical competence, and moral resilience to address these issues.

The session discussed the Mindful Ethical Practice and Resilience Academy as a means to reduce the negative effects of moral distress and restore the joy of being a nurse.

A framework for restoring integrity by cultivating moral resilience includes: self-regulation; mindfulness; moral sensitivity, discernment and action; targeted communication skills; and personal accountability.

Rushton has shared her insights on moral distress and resilience with HealthLeaders Media in the past. She has discussed the need for healthcare leaders to create cultures that support ethical practice environments and establish mechanisms for others to speak up about practices that are challenging their sense of integrity without fear of retaliation.

In the cover story Beating Clinician Burnout, she suggests, "…leaders have to really take stock of the organizational processes, policies, and structures that are contributing to burnout and to allocate resources to support diverse strategies for clinician well-being, recognizing that one size doesn't fit all."

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

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