AACN President Urges Advocacy, Engagement

Deborah Trautman, PhD

Deborah Trautman, president & CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing

By: Bill Bangert

A passion for health care policy was shared during a recent visit to the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing by Deborah Trautman, PhD, president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Trautman spoke at an open forum with students, faculty and staff in Procter Hall.

"As a profession, we have consistently stepped up and made a difference in what we are doing to improve health and health care in this nation,” says Trautman. "We are seeing the importance of advocacy at the local level and it’s important to make sure that you are connecting with your local government as well as with your members of Congress. You have to have a clear message about not just what the issue is, but what you specifically want them to do.”

Trautman, who was named CEO of AACN nearly three years ago, has authored and co-authored publications on a wide variety of healthcare and medical issues, including health policy, clinical competency, change management and consolidating emergency services.

Trautman says the United States currently has a very partisan and divided federal government, but she says one positive out of that divide is a more engaged populace.

"It’s not my role to agree or disagree with the Affordable Care Act, but it is my role to help people understand why insurance matters and what happens when people do or don’t have insurance and why education matters,” says Trautman. "It’s not just an opportunity to advocate; it’s our responsibility to advocate, so we have to do a better job of being a voice. We advocate for our patients all the time; we’ve got to take this to a broader level. When lawmakers see the passion that we bring, and we pair that with some data and real outcomes, we get attention.”

Greer Glazer, PhD, dean of the College of Nursing, moderated the open forum by taking questions from the audience, and also offered a few thoughts on the topic.

"If we don’t get involved in this policy work, we’re not going to be able to do the things that we want to be able to do and should be able to do, so it really is something that we have to do as good of a job as we can while you’re here in school,” Glazer says. "Don’t stop doing it just because you graduate and you’re finished with school and you have jobs.”

The AACN is the national voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, working to establish quality standards for nursing education while assisting schools in implementing those standards. The organization, which represents more than 800 member schools of nursing, also promotes support for professional nursing education, research and practice.