In June 2003 the ANA House of Delegates approved new bylaw amendments that would have a major impact on how the ANA operates. These new changes were precipitated by the need to address and represent a larger area of nursing. Some of those changes are as follows:
1. Changing membership status so more nurses can afford to join the ANA.
2. Funding for the Nurse Reinvestment Act, which provides monies to students enrolling in nursing programs.
3. "Handle with care." ANA’s new campaign to protect nurses from back injuries related to lack of or poor lifting devices.
4. Protecting nurses against exposure to HIV. There is still little research available on the number of HIV+ nurses in the world and transmission statistics to patients. Due mostly to a fear of loosing their jobs, or being blacklisted by other facilities, many nurses choose not to disclose their HIV status. Even with the significant strives in antiretroviral therapy, which has led to impressive improvements in health, so much so, that HIV is now being viewed as a chronic condition rather than terminal disease, the fear of job loss is still paramount.
ANA is also very involved in providing educational materials to nurses regarding antibiotic resistant bacteria. As health care providers it is imperative that we understand the potential impact to, our patients, regarding these mutating microorganisms and ourselves. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, the ANA has become very concerned and quite proactive in protecting the health of nurses who might be exposed to attacks of bioterrorism.
Other actions that ANA is committed to supporting: encouraging health access to all, rather than just to those who can afford to pay for services. ANA will evaluate current universal health proposals and determine the value of such plans.
The Department of Labor has several propositions regarding reduction of overtime benefits. One of those proposals would be to classify nurses as exempt, thereby cutting out overtime pay. This strategy could easily be used by facilities to require mandatory overtime without pay. In addition, the ANA is working to have overtime paid converted to compensation-time off for those families who could benefit from that option.
Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration moved to eliminate its age-old rule for tuberculosis testing.
ANA has always been a supporter of tuberculosis testing not only to protect nurses against unnecessary exposure but also to encourage monitoring of tuberculosis outbreaks.
Most notably to this reporter was the strong advocacy statements made that nurses have a right to representation. The ANA believes in collective bargaining and supports it’s affiliate standing with AFL-CIO.
ANA has continued to advocate on major issues such as: resolving the severe nursing shortage, reducing staffing ratios, implementing workplace rights, health and safety, to name a few. It is through the efforts of collective bargaining that the voice of the nurse can be heard via the media, decision-makers, and the public. With over 2.7 million nurses nationwide, collective bargaining can have a major voice.
I have been a member of the American Nurses Association for many years. I strongly encourage you, my colleagues to take a second look at what this organization has and continues to do for our profession.