American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
Beginning in 1969, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is now the largest specialty nursing organization serving the interests and concerns of over a half million critical care nurses all over the world. The AACN provides education resources to its members so that they may better serve the needs of critical care patients. The organization states that it is dedicated to ensuring that healthcare is guided by the needs of patients and their families (“AACN fact sheet,” n.d.).

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Mission and Members
The AACN mission places the most importance on patients and their families, and understands that critical and acute care nurses rely on the association for knowledge and for its influence in the cause of critical care (“AACN fact sheet,” n.d.). The shared interest of AACN members appears to be clinical and profession, and is found in its vision statement and education offerings. While the AACN vision has been stated in the opening paragraph it is worth noting that the organization if focused on two things: improving healthcare and addressing the needs of patients and families (“AACN fact sheet,” n.d.). The education program will be reviewed in the “Organizational Activities” portion of this paper.

There are a number of membership levels beginning with affiliates who can be LVNs or LPNs, non-nurse critical care professionals or students of these areas. The AACN also allows people outside of the healthcare professions, such as healthcare consumers or corporate members, to join as affiliates (“Membership options,” n.d.). Current students attending RN programs but are not licensed may join as student members. All other memberships, including international, must have at least attained licensure as an RN (“Membership options,” n.d.). Visitors to the AACN website can locate the closest chapter as well as specific information concerning meeting times by accessing a scroll-down menu found by accessing the web page titled “Welcome to the AACN Chapters Website”.

Organizational Activities
The AACN provides members with evidence-based resources regarding all levels of critical care nursing. Other information relates to issues such as ethics, nursing standards, staffing and palliative care (“Clinical practice,” n.d.). The association offers numerous education programs including a yearly clinical education conference, continuing education that is credited and an online library (“Education,” n.d.). The association’s political positions and advocacy efforts are focused on three issues: end-of-life and palliative care, healthy work environments and professional development (“Health policy,” n.d.).

Through its certification arm the AACN offers a good number of critical care nursing certifications that account for specialties, subspecialties, and advanced practice. They include certification in bedside care for acute or critically ill patients of all ages, cardiac medicine, advanced practice in geriatric care, and advanced practice for acute care nurse practitioners (“AACN certification,” 2015). The AACN publishes the bimonthly American Journal of Critical Care and one of the journal’s most recent articles is titled “Defining the medical intensive care unit in the words of patients and their family members: A freelisting analysis” (Auriemma, et al., 2015).

Professionalism
The AACN promotes the professional development of members through a number of awards, including the “Circle of Excellence” that recognizes excellence in acute and critical care of patients and their families, and awards to individual AACN chapters that are given for making a difference in their local communities and in the healthcare profession (“Awards and recognition,” n.d.). The professional stature of nursing is promoted through the AACN “Beacon Award,” that honors individual clinical unites that have improved all elements of patient care. The Beacon Award recognizes improvements in patient care, clinical outcomes, overall patient and family satisfaction, and improvements to clinical work environments (“Welcome to the Beacon Award for Excellence,” n.d.).

Clareen Wiencek, RN, PhD, ACNP, ACHPN, is the new AACN president. Ms. Wiencek is an associate professor of nursing at the University Of Virginia School Of Nursing and serves as coordinator of the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) program (“American Association of Critical-Care Nurses,” 2015). She has 40 years of experience as a critical care nurse, nurse manager, researcher, and as an educator. Ms. Wiencek has served the nursing profession and healthcare field in other university healthcare institutions located in Virginia and Ohio (“American Association of Critical-Care Nurses,” 2015). The AACN seems poised to provide the necessary leadership in healthcare today and appears to have developed valuable programs that advance the nursing profession. I intend on joining the AACN very soon and would encourage others to do so. I am not member of other healthcare-related organizations at this time and am currently investigating which ones would be helpful to my career within the nursing profession.

Conclusion
The AACN is a very impressive professional association that provides its members with valuable resources to improve their clinical abilities and further their careers in healthcare. The AACN is also a valuable asset to the interests of the healthcare profession as a whole and to the patients and families the association is most concerned about.

    References
  • AACN certification corporation fact sheet. (2015). Retrieved from AACN website:
    http://www.aacn.org
  • AACN fact sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved from
    http://www.aacn.org
  • American Association of Critical-Care Nurses announces leadership for fiscal year 2016. (2015,
    July 7). Retrieved from http://www.newswise.com/articles/american-association-of-critical-care-nurses-announces-board-of-directors-for-fiscal-year-2016
  • Auriemma, C. L., Lyon, S. M., Strelec, L. E., Kent, S., Barg, F. K., & Halpern, S. D. (2015).
    Defining the medical intensive care unit in the words of patients and their family members: A freelisting analysis. American Journal of Critical Care, 24(4), e47-e55. doi: 10.4037/ajcc2015717