For decades, the American Nurses Association has called on lawmakers to come together and pass common sense policies that prevent gun violence and protect Americans. Nurses have pushed for action to enhance our background check system, enact mandatory waiting periods, prevent potentially dangerous individuals from getting guns, and allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research gun violence and firearm injury prevention.

These calls were strengthened and renewed at our 2016 Membership Assembly and took on new urgency in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. And while it is frustrating that we made appeals after Sandy Hook, Aurora, Orlando, Las Vegas, and so many other horrific mass shootings, with nothing done to stop this violence, nurses will not stop calling for action.

ANA, along with 95 other organizations, recently called on Congress to establish a bipartisan National Commission on Mass Shootings. We are also actively supporting Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy’s Gun Violence Research Act (H.R. 1478). This bill repeals the current provision that prohibits the CDC and other federal agencies at the Department of Health and Human Services from researching gun violence and firearm injury prevention. This bipartisan bill is a first step in working toward preventing gun violence.

Nurses have a unique perspective on this issue and their input is needed now more than ever. We call on you to help lend your voice to this important issue. Please send a message to your legislators letting them know you support Congresswoman Murphy’s legislation, and be sure to include your own perspective on this critical issue. ANA is committed to working with our partners on and off Capitol Hill to bring nurses’ dedication and ideas forward to help solve this issue. We stand together in calling for meaningful gun violence prevention and increased dialogue with our communities to take action against hate and death.

Our thoughts remain with the victims, students, parents, teachers, first responders and the medical professionals in Parkland, Florida, as they work to heal. ANA is also cognizant of the impact these mass causality shootings have on survivors of gun violence and the continued challenges of recovery that they face. The Parkland community has mobilized around their grief and anger to spark a national conversation, which we have not seen in quite some time. This is a conversation that is long overdue.

Gun violence like this is far too familiar in the United States, and, like so many others, nurses are dealing with the consequences. On average, there are more than 35,000 gun deaths per year in the United States, including almost 13,000 homicides. Even more outrageous is that nearly seven children under the age of 19 are killed with guns every day in the United States. Nurses are being called to care for victims of not only mass shootings but homicides, suicides and accidental shootings in clinics and emergency departments throughout the country. It is because of this that so many nurses and their families are joining the students, parents and teachers at Stoneman Douglas by standing up and saying #NeverAgain.

“We (nurses) are on the front lines of every mass shooting, which over time has become deadlier and more frequent. We have a duty to advocate for the safety of all through stricter gun laws and research the growing trend of gun violence” said Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of ANA.


Introducing the Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act


Advocating for and passing legislation that helps nurses and patients is a fundamental part of our Year of Advocacy. Nurses advocate every day for their patients, their communities and the profession, but it is also important that nurses lend their expertise to elected officials as they draft and pass legislation relevant to the nursing profession.

Earlier this month our bipartisan champions in the House of Representatives and Senate introduced a bill that will improve care and help keep nurses and patients safe. Champions including Reps. David Joyce (R-OH-14), Suzan DelBene (D-WA-10), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) as well as Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), came together to introduce the Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act of 2018 (S. 2446, H.R. 5052).

The bill requires hospitals to establish a committee, composed of at least 55 percent direct care nurses, to create nurse staffing plans that are specific to each unit. As nurses across the country know, patients risk longer hospital stays, increased infections, and avoidable injuries when units are understaffed. Understaffing also leads to lower nurse retention, higher rates of injury and burnout.

“RN staffing makes a critical difference for patients and the quality of their care,” said Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association. “Appropriate nurse staffing keeps patients safe and protects them from preventable complications, even lowering the risk of death. Nursing care is like medication—we would never withhold a medication when we know its lifesaving effects. The Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act empowers direct care nurses to determine the unique and variable needs of their patients to ensure the safety and quality outcomes of care.”

Our Congressional champions also understand why this legislation is so important.

“As a husband of a nurse, I have experienced first-hand the many challenges and responsibilities nurses face on a day to day basis,” said Joyce. “Ensuring patient safety and care has always been a priority but has faced many challenges when nurses are over worked and hospitals are under staffed. As Co-Chair of the House Nursing Caucus, I am proud to introduce legislation that addresses the issue and protects our patients and nurses.”

“As the husband of a nurse, I know firsthand the many challenges nurses face and how critical their care is to patients,” said Merkley. “Safe staffing enhances the quality of patient care, reduces medical errors, and increases nurse retention.”

But introducing this bill is just the first step. We need your help getting more cosponsors for this legislation – let your Senators and Representatives know why safe staffing is so critical. Click here to send them an email asking them to support this bill and be sure to include a personal note on why nurse-driven ratios are so important.

A Budget to Nowhere



The good news is that the budget unveiled Monday by the Trump administration is dead on arrival. The two-year agreement reached by Congress last week makes this budget even less relevant than most presidential budgets, and more importantly the congressional spending deal funds a number of crucial health programs that were in danger of losing funds. The bad news is that the President’s budget seeks to normalize policy proposals that would either cripple or eliminate altogether a number of crucial federal programs that provide critical aid for nurses and their patients.

Nursing Workforce Development Programs covered under Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act would be particularly hard hit, with cuts of almost 65% at a time when nurses nationwide desperately need this funding to continue providing quality care. The budget slashes $145 billion overall, eliminating all but one program under Title VIII (the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program, which would be funded at $83 million). As a result of this drastic and misguided approach, the Nursing Community Coalition (of which ANA is a member) announced their strong opposition earlier today.

Even when the President’s budget takes one step forward by allocating new funds, it simultaneously takes two steps back, as with funding to combat the opioid crisis. While the budget proposal would allocate $13 billion, experts estimate that at least $32 billion is needed to address this lethal epidemic. This new funding would also come at the expense of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which would lose $1 billion and suffer particularly deep cuts to programs aimed at reducing chronic disease, bolstering public health preparedness, and overseeing occupational safety and health.

Perhaps most alarmingly, the budget embraces the approach of the already-rejected Graham-Cassidy legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. This approach would implement massive cuts to Medicaid and eliminate its state-based expansion (which 33 states to date have chosen to embrace). It would also end the subsidies that help a vast majority of Americans who obtained health coverage under the ACA-implemented marketplace pay for their premiums.

Rather than promoting a misguided and out-of-touch budget, ANA urges the administration to instead focus on more pressing priorities, including helping Congress reach an agreement on those affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as efforts to stabilize the health insurance marketplace following the repeal of the individual mandate late last year. Too many of the ideas included in this budget have been rejected by bipartisan congressional majorities. Like those ideas, this budget should similarly be put aside.