Rounds With Leadership: Rising to Meet the Challenge

Published March 25, 2020

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

March 25, 2020 - Rising to Meet the Challenge

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”     -African proverb

AACN is proud to serve our community of academic nursing leaders whose heroic efforts will ensure that our nation remains healthy and strong throughout the duration of the Coronavirus outbreak.  Throughout the country, schools of nursing are taking decisive action to protect students, faculty, and communities; all while adapting their programs to sustain a robust nursing workforce.

Rising to meet the challenge, schools are moving to make an impact on addressing this public health challenge.  When former Deputy HHS Secretary Mary Wakefield called on nursing schools to donate their personal protective gear and medical supplies to local healthcare facilities, schools responded and delivered scores of surgical masks, protective gloves, isolation exam gowns, disinfecting wipes, and other much needed supplies to their practice partners. To help educate the public about COVID-19, faculty experts from Yale Schools of Public Health, Nursing, Medicine, and Law joined with local officials to host a 90-minute videoconference to field questions from local citizens. When AACN moved to offer a virtual Hill Day as a replacement to our Spring Capitol Hill visits, more than 1,000 messages were sent to federal legislators calling for increasing support for nursing education in light of the pandemic.  All of these actions are making a difference.

Since late February, AACN’s priorities have focused on coordinating academic nursing’s response to the coronavirus at the national level. AACN’s Board and staff leaders have engaged in active collaboration with a wide community of stakeholders whose interests cover nursing education, research, practice, licensure, accreditation, and regulation. We have advanced our federal advocacy strategy to focus on legislation and funding that will protect and sustain the nation’s nursing workforce at this critical time. AACN has been working in close collaboration with the heads of the other national health profession organizations to ensure that our priorities and messaging is timely, consistent, and complementary.

With a clear understanding that supporting member schools in combating this virus will be a priority this year, here is a summary of some of AACN’s work to date:

  • AACN launched a new online information center, Coronavirus Resources for Nurse Educators, to support the information needs of nursing school deans, faculty, students, and other stakeholders. Content is updated daily and features details about new informational events and webinars, the latest news from the CDC, curated articles and news stories, and the work underway at nursing schools centered on virus treatment and prevention, as well as preparedness efforts. 

  • On March 10, AACN made the difficult decision to cancel the Deans Annual Meeting, Executive Development Series for Deans, Student Policy Summit, and Nursing Advancement Professionals Meeting scheduled for late March. Since this announcement, the Graduate Nursing Advancement Professionals Meeting in April has been cancelled and the AACN-Apple Digital Innovations Bootcamp has been postponed until July.

  • On March 12, AACN released Considerations for COVID-19 Preparedness and Response in U.S. Schools of Nursing, which offers recommendations for schools to consider as they move ahead with their plans to address the COVID-19 outbreak. The recommendations were developed in collaboration with Dr. Tener Goodwin Veenema from Johns Hopkins University and relate to didactic and clinical education, student travel, alternate teaching approaches, and additional resources for faculty and students. This document was updated on March 20 in response to new recommendations emerging from the CDC.

  • AACN launched a webinar series to help the academic nursing community prepare to address the coronavirus outbreak with sessions focused on delivering courses online, leveraging simulation, promoting resilience, and crisis leadership. The series, which is being expanded to include eight different events, is free and open to all. 

  • On March 16, AACN’s President and CEO Deborah Trautman attended a White House briefing with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and members of the Coronavirus Task Force. Dr. Trautman was invited to attend and present details about nursing's critical role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and to discuss what support is needed to keep the nursing workforce safe and remain fully engaged in treating patients.

Together, AACN members will weather these challenging times and grow stronger as a community of leaders. Please join us in our work to serve as an information clearinghouse by sharing your success stories and the strategies your school is using to protect and prepare your students and faculty as well as the local community you serve. Send details to rrosseter@aacnnursing.org.