AMSN Legislative Brief December 2019

  • Posted on: 6 December 2019
  • By: AMSN

Uncle Sam and health programs important to AMSN got a brief reprieve from the risk of shutdown late November as Congress passed and the President signed into law another “continuing resolution” stopgap government funding measure. Federal programs are now funded through Dec. 20, 2019. Meanwhile, congressional negotiators are working to finalize overdue 2020 spending plans and keep the government from shutting down during the holidays. AMSN has kept requesting Congress prioritize health: to support strong funding for priorities like Title 8 nurse workforce development, the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR).

Have you been heard in Washington? AMSN’s new Legislative Action Center ( strengthens your voice! Through this new online resource, you can learn about vital AMSN policy issues, your own state and federal legislators, and make your voice heard. Our current calls to action urges Senators and Representatives in Washington to support Title 8 nurse workforce development legislation, and to take a practical, public health approach to reduce gun violence in America by funding critical research, supporting background checks, and treating not stigmatizing persons with mental illness.
AMSN is on top of states continuing legislative work this fall affecting med-surg nurses and their patients.

• In Pennsylvania, the state Senate on Oct. 22 passed SB 637, promoting expanded licensure opportunities for ex-offenders without affecting voluntary certification programs like MSNCB. The bill’s next stop is the state House of Representatives. AMSN worked through the Professional Certification Coalition (PCC) to help block an earlier bill (HB 811) that would have interfered with important voluntary licensing programs for med-surg nurses and other health care professionals.
• In Illinois the legislature is out of session. But behind the scenes, labor groups are organizing to move legislation in 2020 establishing mandatory nurse-patient staffing ratios. AMSN policy supports med-surg nurses making staffing decisions at the local level, not one-size-fits-all government staffing plans. Earlier this year, AMSN sent a letter of opposition to Springfield about a previous staffing ratio mandate bill that died in the legislature and was not enacted into law.
• In New York advocates are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign into law bills eliminating prior authorizations for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for persons with opioid use disorder. Because the opioid crisis affects so many people including med-surg nurses, AMSN monitors opioid crisis legislation as part of its 2019 legislative agenda.

What are AMSN’s advocacy plans and how can med-surg nurses engage? AMSN Legislative Team chair Yalanda Comeaux, MSN, MJ, RN, CMSRN, and legislative consultant Frank Purcell conducted a live webinar on this topic earlier this fall, titled “Be Heard for Your Patients: Health Policy & Advocacy for Med-Surg Nurses.” Now it’s available for AMSN members through our online library! This one-hour program will educate you as a med-surg nurse about the fundamentals of advocacy, AMSN’s agenda, and AMSN’s advocacy plans for now and the future that invite your engagement and support your profession. Visit the AMSN Library:

AMSN Legislative Brief October 2019

  • Posted on: 5 November 2019
  • By: AMSN

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a major AMSN legislative priority on Oct. 28, the Title 8 Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (HR 728). During debate, bill sponsor Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) said, “By passing this legislation, Congress can make a direct investment in our nation’s health.” Original cosponsor Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), said, “Demand for health care services provided by nurses continues to grow, and we must expand and support these programs to maintain a highly educated nursing workforce.” Adopted by voice vote, HR 728 now moves to the U.S. Senate for further action.

After hearing from an AMSN member call to action, a key Senate committee took favorable action on the Senate version of Title 8 nurse workforce development legislation (S 1399). By voice vote on Oct. 31, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved the AMSN-backed bill and sent it to the Senate floor for further action. Using the new AMSN Legislative Action Center, AMSN members sent 59 messages to members of the Senate HELP Committee urging support for this bipartisan legislation. The bill’s next step is to be scheduled for action on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

What’s AMSN’s advocacy agenda? And how can AMSN members help achieve it? A webinar from AMSN Legislative Team chair Yalanda Comeaux and Legislative Consultant Frank Purcell the afternoon of Nov. 4 provides answers to these critical questions for medical-surgical nurses. Nurses advocate every day for their patients in the health care delivery setting – nurses can also advocate for patients among federal and state legislators, policymakers and health care industry leaders. The webinar will be available soon as a recording online and will provide nurses 1 hour of CNE / 1.0 contact hours.

Congress and the Administration are behind schedule approving appropriations legislation needed for the smooth operation of health care and nursing education programs for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Uncle Sam is running on temporary “continuing resolution” or CR funds through Nov. 21. A government shutdown can be averted if lawmakers adopt and the president signs another temporary CR in advance of the Nov. 21 deadline, which ensures level funding for most programs. Alternatively, Congress and the Administration can adopt their 2020 appropriations bills. That’s possible but not as likely.

Your AMSN Legislative Action Center has two agenda items for members to be heard on Capitol Hill. One is to urge the whole U.S. Senate to take up and pass S 1399, the Title 8 Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act. The other is to support an evidence-based public health approach to reducing gun violence by supporting mandatory background checks (HR 8), supporting $50 million in research funding through the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and supporting care not stigma for persons with mental illness. To make your voice heard today, click below!

Take Action Today:

CEO’s CORNER - Happy Med-Surg Nurses’ Week!

  • Posted on: 5 November 2019
  • By: AMSN

Med-Surg Nurses’ Week is November 1-7 and we are so happy to celebrate you! We have several ways in which we are recognizing and celebrating you, our members, during your week. Please be sure to download your social media profile frame and share it far and wide, along with our hashtag, #MSNW19! We have had photo contests, webinars, shared self-care tips, and published some videos we think you’ll love! From all of us at AMSN, thank you for all you do every single day. We are proud to represent the hardest-working group of nurses, medical-surgical nurses.

I am also happy to share another huge initiative AMSN is undertaking on your behalf. We have an open call for task-force members to participate in the development of the very first set of comprehensive medical-surgical nursing competencies. Currently there is no cohesive, authoritative set of competencies for practicing medical-surgical nurses and we want to work with you to develop and validate them.

Nursing competence is defined as “the ability of a nurse to effectively demonstrate a set of attributes, such as personal characteristics, values, attitudes, knowledge and skills, which are required to fulfil his/her professional responsibility” (Takase, 2013, p. 1400). Competency building is a career-long requirement for nurses and has been increasingly mandated by nursing bodies, employers and the public. However, measuring competence is difficult due to the lack of rigorous tools and methods. Lakanmaa et al. note “The measurements can only be as productive and accurate as the competencies selected to be measured, and measurement techniques cannot overcome the limitations incurred in the identification of the competencies to be measured” (Lakanmaa et al., 2014, p. 800).

Given the increasing demand for both initial and ongoing competency measurement, AMSN believes now is the time to develop a competency model that clearly identifies, defines and maps the medical-surgical nursing competencies. To ensure we do this well, we have hired expert consultants to help us develop the competencies. We have also compiled a steering committee made up of thought leaders within the nursing and workforce development to provide insight and oversight throughout the process. With their guidance and the expertise of our task force members, we will:

1. identify tasks, knowledges, skills, and other characteristics needed for job success
2. map the competencies required of medical-surgical nurses and will show how these competencies evolve and change as nurse experience/expertise increases
3. identify critical medical-surgical nursing outcomes (e.g., quality, safety, efficiency, satisfaction)

By doing so, we are confident that we will develop a competency model that meets the needs of medical-surgical nurses, nursing faculty, nurse educators, nurse managers and administrators. Further, given that we will identify and demonstrate impact on outcomes, these competencies will be practical and valuable for the entire industry.

If you are interested in participating, please fill out the application here:

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out, my email is

Lakanmaa, R. L., Suominen, T., Perttilä, J., Ritmala-Castrén, M., Vahlberg, T., & Leino-Kilpi, H. (2014). Basic competence in intensive and critical care nursing: Development and psychometric testing of a competence scale. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 23, 799-810. doi:10.1111/jocn.12057
Takase, M. (2013). The relationship between the levels of nurses' competence and the length of their clinical experience: A tentative model for nursing competence development. Journal of Clinical Nursing. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2012.04239.x

Emerging Professionals: Join Us for the Nightingale Challenge!

  • Posted on: 31 October 2019
  • By: AMSN

Happy Medical-Surgical Nurses week! Medical-Surgical Nurses week is celebrated every November 1-7 in part to recognize the specialty of medical-surgical nursing, but also to celebrate you and the amazing things you do daily for your patients and their families, your colleagues, community and the profession of nursing. I hope you will share some of the fun you had this week on AMSN’s social media pages!

The board of directors know how challenging practice is today; we regularly implement strategies to help you to promote a healthy practice environment along with your development professionally and as an advocate. One of the newest initiatives we are implementing is the Nightingale Challenge. I’d like to provide more information on that initiative in this column.

This year-long initiative is open to AMSN members who are under 35 years of age. Participants will be selected from survey applications that you can access online. The initiative will be led by a leading international authority on leadership, Dr. Terry Jones. Over the course of one year, participants will review and discuss the use of behaviors that promote effective leadership and followership, exploring topics such as the Courage to Serve, Inspiring a Shared Vision, Enabling Others to Act, and Encouraging the Heart.

Throughout the program you will be guided in the planning of your own leadership and career development by Dr. Jones, members of your cohort and your work at your facility. The tools you will receive as a participant in this program will be of great benefit as you continue along your career trajectory. You will have the opportunity to actively network with members of your cohort, discussing timely topics such as finding your own voice and how to challenge processes in ways that will increase your chance of success.

I would encourage you to consider completing the survey when it is published online and make a commitment to advance your professional leadership abilities. Annette Kennedy, the President of the International Council of Nurses stated that, “it is essential that nurses are enabled to play a bigger role in multidisciplinary teams, working to their full potential to innovate, to lead and to advocate.” The Nightingale Challenge will assist you in facing and breaking down the barriers that hold nurses back, to work to your full potential as leaders, innovators, and health advocates for your patients, colleagues, and your communities.

Members completing the program will have opportunities to continue to develop their leadership roles as members or chairs of volunteer units within AMSN. My own journey toward leadership has truly been enhanced by my membership and volunteer work with AMSN. I have achieved goals I never would have dreamed of as a young nurse, accepted opportunities that resulted in positive impacts in the profession, and met and collaborated with some of the greatest national nurse leaders both here in the US and abroad. I would love to welcome you to find your own path toward leadership; won’t you let us help you?

AMSN Legislative Brief October 2019

  • Posted on: 14 October 2019
  • By: AMSN

A presidential executive order supports nurses and other health care professionals practicing to the fullest extent of their scope and skill – a longtime priority of AMSN and other nursing organizations. Released on Oct. 3, the executive order requests that federal agencies develop regulatory proposals to “enable provider to spend more time with patients” and eliminate policies that “limit professionals from practicing at the top of their profession.” The executive order is a positive development that supports change in law and regulation, but it does not change laws and regulations by itself.

AMSN is supporting health research as a major priority as Congress continues work on its 2020 appropriations. Signing on to an advocacy letter circulated by the Friends of AHRQ (Agency for Health Care Research and Quality), AMSN requested that Congress “fund the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) at a level equal to or more than that included in the House bill of $358.2 million. AHRQ is an essential element of the nation’s health care ecosystem, charged with improving the quality and delivery of health care.”

Most state legislatures are not in session this fall, meaning that an Illinois bill to institute mandatory nurse staffing ratios, which is opposed by AMSN, is not moving in 2019. But one of 7 states with the legislature still in session, Pennsylvania, continues to consider a bill affecting voluntary professional nurse credentialing programs like MSNCB. AMSN has expressed concerns about the Pennsylvania bill, HB 811. It has not moved in committee and AMSN continues monitoring it.

Robin's Nest President's Column - Nightingale Challenge Accepted!

  • Posted on: 14 October 2019
  • By: AMSN

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind! I have attended a think tank on the professional identity formation of nurses in which I had the honor to collaborate with 49 other nurse leaders across education, legislation, and practice. Last week was AMSN’s National Convention and what a wonderful experience that was! More than 1,300 nurses gathered to discuss, learn, and network. It was 3 days filled with plenty of joy, comradery, and hard work. If you haven’t been to a national convention, please consider attending next year in Las Vegas – it’s money well spent, and you will make memories of a lifetime in addition to connections to friends new and old and information that is cutting edge to guide your practice.
We announced exciting initiatives during the convention as well such as the upcoming release of behavioral health modules and the development of an evidence-based practice program to help nurses develop their own evidence-based practice projects and integrate findings into their practice. One initiative that I am very excited about is AMSN’s participation in the Nightingale Challenge. This is an initiative developed by the World Health Organization and the International Council of Nurses in recognition of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife which is also the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale.

AMSN’s participation in the Nightingale Challenge will entail the leadership development and opportunities for volunteerism of at least 20 young professional nurses under the age of 35. The initiative will be headed up by Dr. Terry Jones and I’m sure that all those who participate will enjoy the experience. One of the members of this group will also be selected to participate at the board of director’s level as a non-voting member. This nurse will provide insight into the challenges and needs of young professional nurses and will learn about leadership at this higher level.
Today, I’m headed to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Nurses on Boards Coalition. This coalition is made up of a group of nurse leaders who are working to provide the leadership skills and knowledge to nurses so that they can serve on boards in their facilities, their communities and at the national level. I’m very excited that AMSN is a participant in this work as well; every nurse should consider themselves a leader. If we can envision it, want it ardently enough, and act upon it we can ensure that in the near future, nurses will be an important part of every conversation regarding the health of the population in the private, corporate, and legislative sectors!

As nurses who work more closely with patients than any other health professional, it should be a given that we have a seat at the board. Once we arrive there, we need to stand up, speak up, present evidence to support our concerns, and continue to help the development and progression of younger professional nurses. Individually, nurses are powerful; collectively, we are a force to be reckoned with!

CEO's Corner: Our Commitment To You

  • Posted on: 14 October 2019
  • By: AMSN

Our Commitment to You

Robin’s column this month speaks about the many ways AMSN is representing you, our members, in initiatives of importance to the nursing profession. AMSN believes that it is critical that you have a voice in these initiatives and that med-surg nurses are heard.

AMSN was excited to be invited to participate in the Professional Identity Formation in Nursing think-tank. We were one of the only specialty nursing practice associations to be invited. We were privileged to attend with the American Nurses Association, National League for Nursing, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, National Student Nurses Association and the National Council for State Boards of Nursing. As you can see, many of the associations present are directly involved in nursing education, so AMSN was proud to represent medical-surgical nursing at the think-tank. We are excited to continue to represent all of you in this important work.

We also joined and participated in the Nurses on Boards Coalition, which aims to increase the percentage of nurses serving on professional boards of directors. We look forward to representing medical-surgical nurses in this important endeavor and demonstrating the value you can bring to organizations, professional associations and charities alike.

Lastly, as Robin noted, AMSN will be participating in the Nightingale Challenge, a program developed by Nursing Now, a collaborative three-year campaign shared by the International Council of Nurses and the World Health Organization. The Nightingale Challenge seeks to develop the leadership of nurses under the age of 35. We will be developing a program that will provide leadership opportunities to 20 AMSN members during 2020, which has been declared the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Stay tuned for more information and to sign up. We can’t wait to launch this program.

I hope these initiatives demonstrate our commitment to you, our members, and our commitment to the specialty of medical-surgical nursing. You are the reason we exist, and we are working very hard to serve you in ways that are meaningful and impactful. We want to demonstrate to the world the vital role each and every one of you play in the health care arena. We want to ensure your voice is heard, and you are involved in decisions impacting the health care system. We are committed to making a difference for you.

Compassion in the 21st Century: MSNCB President's Message

  • Posted on: 11 October 2019
  • By: AMSN

The practice of nursing constantly evolves. Traditionally, nurses have always been at the bedside of those who suffered from illnesses or injuries. The minds (knowledge) and hands of nurses were the tools they used to facilitate healing in the patients to whom they provided care. With all the innovations in technology, nurses have increasingly become surrounded by equipment that helps support and improve the patient’s health and wellness. It is undeniable that technology has made an incredibly positive impact on patient care. However, technology has also negatively affected the amount of time nurses spend in providing direct patient care.

According to a study performed by Hendrich, Chow, Skieczynski, & Lu (2017): A 36-Hospital time and Motion Study: How do Medical Surgical Nurses Spend their time, in which 767 medical-surgical nurses participated, nurses spent 43.7% of their time on patient care activities, patient assessment, & medication administration. The remainder of the nurses’ time was spent on documentation (35.3%) and care coordination (20.6%).

Consequently, nurses must make every effort to interact in a sensitive and compassionate manner with patients and their families, even when time seems limited by a seemingly endless array of non-patient care responsibilities. We must learn to support our nursing care teams, teaching and demonstrating compassionate care as a standard practice in all our patient interactions. We must all understand that compassion is a broader term than empathy and refers to both an understanding of another’s pain along with the desire to somehow mitigate that pain.

Clearly, demonstrating compassion is not an easy task given the number of patients who present to our facilities with addictions, mental illness, homelessness, and a lack of trust in the health care system. However, as front line staff, med-surg nurses must understand the fundamental relationships between patient care, compassion, trust, and wellness. Compassion both verbal and nonverbal is indeed an integral aspect of patient communication and is essential in developing the nurse-patient relationship.

Compassion does not require a dissertation, rather a touch, a look, a smile, and open honest communication.

Maya Angelou said it best: “They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Let’s always remember that in nursing, compassion and technology must coexist for the best patient outcomes.

Thank you med-surg nurses for adapting and thriving in an ever-changing world.

CEO’s CORNER - September 2019

  • Posted on: 12 September 2019
  • By: AMSN

Robin’s column this month referenced the important role coaching and mentoring played in her career and personal development. I was also fortunate to have many wonderful peer coaches during my nursing career and I am forever grateful for the relationships I was able to build and cultivate over that time.

AMSN feels connection is a critical component of the value we bring to medical-surgical nurses. It’s so important to us that we’ve made it part of our tagline and work continuously to provide opportunities for our members to make connections with other medical-surgical nurses to build a strong and dynamic community. Given that it is September (where has the year gone?!) and our annual convention is literally only weeks away, what better time to talk about building connections?

AMSN’s annual convention is the largest event we host, and the best in-person networking opportunity we offer. We do our best to balance your need and desire for education with the ability to network with your peers. This year we’re bringing some new and improved opportunities for you to connect with other attendees.

Each year we do an orientation session to help first-time attendees plan for their convention experience. This year we’re also hosting a networking reception in advance of our orientation session so you can meet other attendees, board members, volunteers and staff prior to the convention. The event is Thursday September 26th from 2:30 to 3:15, so we hope to see you there!

This year we’re doing even more with our convention app to foster conversation and engagement. In fact, people have already begun chatting and connecting on the app so be sure to download it and join the conversation! We look forward to getting to know you before we connect in Chicago in a few weeks.

We’ve expanded our exhibit hall booth space and have some networking couches and chairs so you can connect with friends or make new ones. We’ll have a strong staff and volunteer presence in the booth to answer any questions you might have. Stop by and visit us during the exhibit hall hours. We’ll have some great giveaways and materials for you.

We’ve significantly expanded our store onsite at convention. Last year was the first time we sold AMSN branded items at convention and it was an overwhelming success. We’ve decided that you all need more med-surg nursing gear and products, so be sure to stop and see us at the store. We have apparel, notebooks, tumblers, and other goodies for you to proudly display your love for your med-surg specialty.

We are so excited to connect with you in Chicago. There is so much to see and do! Local restaurants are looking forward to serving you and there are several tours you can participate in with your new friends. We know you’ll enjoy the education we have planned for you, and we are equally as confident that you’ll make many connections over the course of your time at convention. I look forward to seeing you there!

Robin's Nest President's Column - Leadership Challenge

  • Posted on: 9 September 2019
  • By: AMSN

I’ve been very blessed in my professional career due, in large part, to the mentors and coaches I’ve had along the way. During my initial training and then later as an academic colleague, faculty members Sandra Gottschalk, Beryl Dinges and Michele Unrein provided encouragement and guidance, accepting no less than the very best I could do. Each of these leaders instilled a love of the nursing profession in me and sparked my interest in nursing leadership.

After graduating, my first job was on the surgical unit of a local hospital. The unit director was Wilma Ross, a nurse who was always willing to provide nursing care when an extra hand was needed. She taught me that nurses earn respect of healthcare colleagues by professionalism in practice, a willingness to learn, and through excellence in care delivery. She taught me the importance of leading by example.

I’ve had other excellent coaches along my professional journey, too many to list here. But each of them taught me something unique regarding leadership. As a leader of AMSN, I want to continue to encourage others in their role as a nurse leader.

I have dedicated many years of my professional career to the professional development of new nurses. As a member of AMSN’s board of directors, I also feel a responsibility for the development of future leaders. One of the ways AMSN is doing this is through our student program. Not only do students receive free membership in AMSN, but we are also working to develop a program which will assist the nurse in their progression from student, to nurse, to nurse leader including certification as a medical-surgical nurse.

AMSN also supports leadership development of our members through participation in the Nursing Alliance Leadership Academy (NALA). Over the past several years, board members have attended NALA to network with other nursing organization leaders and to further develop the skills necessary to lead AMSN. In the future, I look forward to sending volunteer leaders who are interested in board positions to this event.

AMSN’s leadership believes that it is vital to identify and foster the next generation of leaders through training, coaching, mentoring and providing opportunities for volunteer leaders to develop leadership skills. One of the initiatives announced at the recent International Council of Nurses Congress was a challenge to employers and professional organizations to provide leadership opportunities and training to nurses under the age of 35. Another is the Nurses on Boards Coalition, of which AMSN is a member, which focuses on increasing the presence of nurses on corporate, health-related, and other boards in order to improve population health. I look forward to implementing programs in the coming months to meet each of these goals.

I would like to challenge each of you to consider your own leadership goals and skills. If you are interested in developing further as a leader, please drop me a line or visit with me at the national convention held later this month. I look forward to it!