Dear colleague,

These past weeks we have seen one act of violence and tragedy after another, and I find myself searching for something to soothe the weariness. As an AACN chapter advisor just shared with me, we need a hug. I wonder if you are experiencing similar feelings or thinking that it is hard for the human spirit to cope with this string of violence against our shared humanity and to embrace what really matters. Sadly, increased violent behavior in the workplace has been something that you — members of our nursing community — have reported as one of the key barriers to your ability to practice fully and successfully in your daily work.

But with each event, I am reminded and heartened that nurses have been a constant — working to save the lives of severely injured individuals who went about their lives like any other day. Clearly, nurses and the practice of nursing have never mattered more. We are there as first responders, in the emergency room, in the ICU and throughout the journey for victims of these random and senseless acts. Our courageous work — the work of saving lives, of showing compassion and giving human-centered care, and supporting and restoring families — matters. Nurses’ compassion, strength, focus, judgment and decision-making have never been needed more.

I know that it’s easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged during times like these. But I encourage you to take a moment to consider how these events have impacted — and continue to impact — the work that we do and the profession we love. And I ask you to reach out to fellow nurses and physicians and health team members and thank them for being there, for giving to humanity when needed most.

Take this time to reflect upon what really matters to you: your loved ones, your community, your colleagues, your patients and their families. And I challenge you to think about how we as nurses can best bring our healing to a world in need of understanding, tolerance and compassionate care.

During times like these, we all want to reach out and engage others – to form connections in an attempt to understand and know others more completely. Perhaps this is our ultimate contribution as nurses: to remind a battered world that all is not lost and to lead the way in creating a new level of hope and acceptance – a level where compassion and understanding replace violence as the answer that matters most.

With immense gratitude for what you do,

Clareen Wiencek, PhD, RN, ACNP, ACHPN
AACN President