The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) mission statement focuses on the patient and family members who are in need of acute or critical care and the nurses who care for these patients while relying on AACN for expert knowledge and influence driving excellence of care (http://www.aacn.org). AACN is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. It represents over 500,000 nurses in 49 U.S. states and 3 foreign countries and has more than 240 chapters. There are nine different member categories Active, Emeritus, Lifetime, International, Honorary, Student, Affiliate, Corporate, and Retired/Permanently Disabled with members belonging to only one category at a time and one membership at a time.
Standards set by AACN include Practice Alerts such as Prevention of Aspiration, Family Visitation, Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections, among others that address nursing and multidisciplinary practices important in acute and critical environments and are supported by evidence to promote a safe and optimal environment of care. Standards of Care, for nurses in acute and critical care utilize the framework of the nursing process along with the Scope of Practice to determine the role and boundaries of practice for acute and critical care. Specialty Certification such as the Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN), Adult Progressive Care (PCCN), Adult Cardiac Surgery Subspecialty (CSC), and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNPC) are some of the certifications that can be obtained through AACN which validate knowledge, skills, and abilities against national standards.
Educational programs for professional development and advancement can be obtained through AACN using resources such as web based learning, conferences, or chapter events. AACN is a leader in setting standards for current practice and education and is used by hospitals and learning institutions. Health policy is influenced by AACN with position statements to support legislation, working with coalitions to bring national attention to issues, and participation in national forums that shape health policy, care environments and delivery. AACN awards grants, supports research, and publishes a number of peer-reviewed journals.
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