The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has created a guide to help those who have been vaccinated to engage in constructive conversations with family members and friends who are hesitant about the vaccine. The toolkit is part of AACN’s Hear Us Out campaign to report nurses’ reality from the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and urge those who are unvaccinated to reconsider.
“COVID-19 is still here. The majority of patients with COVID we’re seeing in ICUs haven’t been vaccinated, and their journey often ends with a nurse holding their hand as they die,” said Beth Wathen, AACN president and a clinical practice specialist in Denver. “Nurses need allies to end this pandemic, and productive conversations about the vaccine among family, friends and those who trust each other can open minds.”
The toolkit includes tips to help individuals prepare for potentially challenging conversations and talk with those who hesitate to get vaccinated. It provides resources to continue the conversation, including tip sheets, links to trusted information sources, short videos of nurses sharing profound experiences of taking care of unvaccinated patients with COVID-19 and more to help keep talking with people about the importance of getting vaccinated.
“This toolkit offers straightforward tips to keep sensitive conversations from becoming confrontational,” said Stephanie Burdick, a community health strategist in Salt Lake City. “It fills a critical gap in community health education as the public prepares to celebrate the upcoming holidays with friends and loved ones.”
A recent AACN survey of more than 6,500 acute and critical care nurses found that 76% of respondents say that people who have yet to be vaccinated threaten nurses’ physical and mental well-being. It also found that 92% of nurses surveyed said they believe the pandemic has depleted nurses at their hospitals and, as a result, their careers will be shorter than they intended.
“We know that people in communities with low vaccination rates are at greater risk for becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 and dying from what is now largely a preventable disease,” said Amanda Bettencourt, AACN president-elect and an assistant professor in Philadelphia. “The pandemic has brought the nursing profession into crisis, and the public is a critical part of the solution. The fastest way out of this is by more people getting vaccinated.”
To learn more about how AACN is helping Americans have informed and constructive conversations about the decision to be vaccinated, visit hearusout.com.
Newswise — American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has launched Hear Us Out, a nationwide effort to report nurses’ reality from the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and urge those who have yet to be vaccinated to reconsider. In response to the surge of the delta variant, a dramatic increase in younger Americans dying and the Food and Drug Administration’s first full approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, AACN is advocating on behalf of the acute and critical care nursing community, as the profession and healthcare systems are being pushed to a breaking point.
“We don’t want to scare the public, yet we are obligated to paint an accurate picture of life and death with COVID-19 in an ICU,” said Beth Wathen, AACN president. “COVID kills, and the death is a difficult, tragic and lonely one. By engaging in an honest dialogue, we hope to help Americans understand the consequences of what is now a preventable disease.”
Hear Us Out mobilizes nurse voices and outlines the dangers of COVID-19 surges for the community at- large. The campaign will include videos of nurses sharing their experiences taking care of patients with COVID-19 and materials that guide those who have been vaccinated to engage in constructive conversations with family and friends who have yet to be vaccinated.
Media reports show that in regions with low vaccination rates, healthcare systems may be unable to provide care for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as well as those with cancer, heart attacks, strokes and other health emergencies. This challenge will only worsen until more people are vaccinated against COVID-19.
As the situation escalates, nurses are leaving hospital settings or the profession altogether in record numbers. The sustained and extreme demands of caring for unvaccinated, hospitalized patients are taking their toll. A recent AACN survey of more than 6,000 acute and critical care nurses quantified the impact of the past 18 months on the profession:
92% of nurses surveyed said they believe the pandemic has depleted nurses at their hospitals and, as a result, their careers will be shorter than they intended
66% feel their experiences during the pandemic have caused them to consider leaving nursing
76% say that people who have yet to be vaccinated threaten nurses’ physical and mental well-being
67% believe taking care of patients with COVID-19 puts their own families’ health at risk
“Nurses leaving the profession will bring our healthcare system to its knees,” said Amanda Bettencourt, AACN president-elect. “You or your mother, brother, child or dear friend may suffer alone without a nurse beside them providing care. This is the last thing we want to have happen. It is avoidable, and it is the public who can help take the pressure off our overwhelmed nurses at the bedside.”
If this trend continues, the future of healthcare is at risk. The nursing shortage in the U.S. will intensify, having been an issue long before the pandemic. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected nearly 200,000 nurse openings each year through 2029, including retirements and workplace exits. Now, survey data indicates that more nurses than projected are likely to leave the profession due to their pandemic experience. Inadequate staffing will lead to additional challenges in the coming years, raising the risk of increased mortality and complications in hospitalized patients.
Visit HearUsOut.com for more information on AACN survey findings and how to become an ally to protect both the public and our nurses.
Association of Critical-Care Nurses: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to acute and critical care nursing excellence. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. AACN is the world’s largest specialty nursing organization, with more than 130,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States.
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 27071 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; 949-362-2000; www.aacn.org; facebook.com/aacnface; twitter.com/aacnme
As of August 2, 2021, AACN calls for all healthcare and long-term care employers to require every member of the healthcare team—employees and all credentialed and contracted providers—to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
AACN has previously held that vaccination decisions are best left up to the individual. This new position, which calls for mandatory vaccination except when medically contraindicated, is a necessary response to the grave threat of COVID-19 and the dramatic rise in cases among unvaccinated individuals. In this unique case, we believe mandated vaccination is the best path to support the physical safety of patients, nurses, their colleagues, and their families and a means to prevent further trauma and moral injury imposed by the pandemic on our health care workforce.
To be effective, the COVID-19 vaccine must be received by a large percentage of the population. Health care team members who are vaccinated serve as role models and help to shorten the duration of the pandemic. Ultimately, widespread vaccination will reduce the massive burden of this disease on acute and critical-care units and our communities.
This call for mandatory vaccination aligns with more than 55 major healthcare organizations, including the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association who recently called for similar action.
It is reasonable for healthcare workers to have questions about new vaccines and requirements. AACN calls on healthcare leaders to recognize and honor the difficult and even traumatic conditions under which many employees have worked during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is crucial to ensure that employees and providers have opportunities to ask questions, express concerns and receive scientific information regarding vaccines and the organization’s rationale for requiring them.
FDA approval of the currently available vaccines is moving forward, and the widely administered vaccines have been safe and effective. AACN will share information from reliable sources as we advance our understanding on this topic. Nurses, the most trusted profession, must scrutinize all sources of information, decline to accept misinformation and disseminate only accurate information from credible scientific sources.
NTI will offer a fully immersive, interactive conference experience May 24-27, delivering the education and inspiration critical care nurses deserve and the flexibility they need.
Attendees will enjoy 24/7 access to concurrent clinical and professional development sessions, inspirational keynotes, ExpoEd exhibitor education, and new and different ways to make meaningful connections with other attendees.
NTI learning opportunities offer the following formats:
Educational Sessions: More than 200 sessions offered during the conference and available after the conference through Oct. 31. Sessions are 60 or 150 minutes.
SuperSessions: Large sessions for all participants featuring national speakers and AACN leaders, geared toward professional success, current and future trends, and/or national and global issues.
Pharmacology Content: Online classroom sessions with a minimum portion of pharmacotherapeutic content on drug-specific information, safe-prescribing practices, safe medication administration and prescribing methodologies.
Posters: Self-viewing Beacon Journey for Excellence, Chapter Best Practices, CSI Academy Innovation, Evidence-Based Solutions and Research digital posters offered during the conference and available after the conference through Oct. 31.
Sunrise/Sunset Sessions: Sessions funded by unrestricted grants from corporate supporters. Sessions are 60 minutes long with approximately 75% clinical and 25% product-specific content.
ExpoEd Education: Product- and program-specific educational and in-service-style learning provided by exhibitors. Sessions are 30 minutes.
NTI includes the Critical Care Exposition, the largest and most comprehensive trade show expressly for progressive and critical care nurses. The Critical Care Exposition will be available virtually during NTI, May 24-27. Attendees can visit online exhibit booths to view exhibitor content, link to ExpoEd sessions, plus visit and chat with exhibitor representatives.
Participants can earn 200+ CE contact hours for NTI 2021. CE contact hours are calculated on a 60-minute hour and determined by the number of learning activities a registered NTI participant completes. Learners must view/read the entire learning activity and complete the associated evaluation, as well as the program evaluation, to be awarded CE contact hours or CERP credit. No partial hours or credit will be awarded.
More than 200 NTI sessions will be available online for self-study with CE contact hours through Oct. 31.
About the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition: Established in 1974, AACN’s National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI) represents the world’s largest educational conference and trade show for nurses who care for acutely and critically ill patients and their families. Bedside nurses, nurse educators, nurse managers, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners attend NTI.
About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to acute and critical care nursing excellence. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. AACN is the world’s largest specialty nursing organization, with more than 130,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States.
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