One of AACN President Clareen Wiencek’s favorite quotes is attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

She says the quote is at the root of AACN’s theme for 2016-2017, It Matters.

“We know it matters that we care courageously for the sickest and most vulnerable patients and do it in chaotic and ever-changing health systems,” Wiencek says.

“It matters that we are members or leaders of interdisciplinary teams who are always at the bedside watching, preventing errors and averting disasters.”

Wiencek believes it matters that nurses are the “architect of the memory” for families of patients who experience the crisis of acute or critical illness, and that the end-of-life care they are sometimes called to provide is indispensable.

“We know it matters,” she says, “when we hold the hand of a dying patient and wipe the tears of the patient’s wife … or father … or daughter — or sometimes our own.”

She adds that it also matters that members of the AACN community are bold and relentless in driving change.

“We are nurses,” Wiencek says, “and it matters!”