Starting point. The Alberta Association of Nurses (AAN) has a unique history behind its founding. Much of what the group does—conferences, professional development, advocacy—was previously done by the Alberta College and Registered Nurses Association, which oversees nurses in the province. When a law passed that said organizations could not regulate or advocate, CARNA retained its regulatory functions and began operating as the College of Registered Nurses of Alberta, and the AAN was formed.
“This was an opportunity to create a truly independent professional nursing organization,” said Kathy Howe, executive director of the AAN. “We’ve been including registered nurses and nurse practitioners, but we’ve expanded. We have licensed practical nurses and psychiatric nurses. So, for the first time in Alberta, we now have this professional nursing association that encompasses all aspects of nursing.
Early work. Now, AAN’s main goal is to help nurses in the region understand that it’s a new, different group. A page on the AAN website explains the differences between the three organizations that Alberta nurses can become. One challenge in getting nurses to tell them about the new group is that the CRNA has been unable to share contact information with the AAN for the 65,000 registered nurses.
“We had to be really creative in how we got the word out,” Howe said. “We had a little bit of a slow start, but it’s really started to pick up in the last few weeks.”
To this end, AAN is planning a listening tour to meet with nurses across the state. “We’re putting together a plan, a strategy to go out into the communities,” Howe said. “It’s about getting people to come face to face with us and ask, ‘What are the things that concern you? What do you think this association should do?’
Next steps. AN hopes to attract 20,000 members over the next two years by talking to nurses in their areas, offering professional development and offering member benefits like liability insurance.
“What we’re really hoping to prove to people in these first few years is that this is truly going to be a member-for-member association,” Howe said. “It will not be Cathy Howe’s agenda. It will be your agenda, what is important to you.
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