Nurses at a recent AAACN conference.To assist you in articulating the value of the registered nurse, the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN) are providing you with the following talking points.

Please use them as background information when you talk or write about nursing to whomever will listen. You may also want to view the RN Role in Ambulatory Care Position Paper.

Public Trust

In the annual Gallup Poll looking at the honesty and ethical standards within a range of professions, nurses repeatedly have ranked as the most trustworthy.

National Harris polls yield similar results. And it is with good reason. The public knows that we will look after their best interests and the best interests of their loved ones.

Registered nurses' professional "Code of Ethics" clearly states that our "primary commitment is to the patient." Our mission is to keep patients safe and provide them with the best care.


Nurses are there for patients. The public may not think about the solid educational background of registered nurses or the fact that we are bound by a Code of Ethics, or that we develop and follow standards of care. But they know that we are the ones who respond and take the time to listen and answer their questions honestly and completely, whether they are on the phone or visiting the clinic or office.

Nurses are the first responders in times of crisis--whether it is helping at the scene of a car accident or providing care during a hurricane.

We are often the ones neighbors and other family members turn to for advice about an unusual rash, a side effect of a medication, or a decision about hospice services. We are in the community, hospitals, clinics, schools, and workplaces; we are everywhere.

Nurses Recognize

Nurses recognize patients are more than a set of symptoms that need to be treated. As registered nurses, we are taught to look at a patient as a whole person-- looking at the physical, spiritual, emotional, and psycho-social needs.

What this ultimately means to patients is that we will listen to them, we will advocate for them, and we will give them the information they need to make informed decisions--and then support them in those decisions. Nurses recognize that patients are more than a set of symptoms that need to be treated.


Nurses help patients navigate the system and understand health needs. We serve as the interpreter of complex information--often in a time of crisis--explaining diagnostic tests, treatments, and the maze that is the health care system.

We serve as the go-between in interactions with physicians, social workers, pharmacists, and other members of the health care team, and sometimes even with family members.

We play a key role in coordinating care when a patient is hospitalized and then discharged to home or another health care facility so that follow-up appointments, medication needs, and other services are appropriate and carried through.

All along the way, registered nurses provide patients with the information they need to keep them safe, as well as how to lead healthier lives through preventive and self-care measures.


No one spends more time interacting with patients than nurses. Therefore, registered nurses have a unique perspective on the many issues that are part of the current health care crisis.

Addressing a spectrum of challenges, including issues of quality and safety, as well as the potential domino effect resulting from the disintegration of the mental health care safety net, is crucial. Recognizing the growing issues facing America's seniors emphasizes the critical importance of access to primary care.

Nurses are on the very front lines working to ensure quality health care and searching for solutions that will benefit all those in need.


Nurses are problem-solvers and caretakers.

Beyond our caring and compassion, registered nurses have the analytical thinking and decision-making skills to look at patients--their history, current symptoms, even body language--and determine what's really going on to keep them on the road to recovery and health.

Nurses are constantly monitoring a patient's condition so they can anticipate potential problems, often well before they spiral out of control. We are often the last line of defense for patient safety.

That is why it is crucial that there is adequate RN staffing. Scientific evidence backs us up on this: when there are more nurses working with patients and their families, patients fare better.


Nurses are focused on cost-effective care and appropriate resource allocation.

More registered nurses prevent complications, help to save lives, and having more nurses on staff saves money. Nurses are highly resourceful, with their ability to problem-solve and improvise in emergency situations or tough times while keeping patients safe.

Advanced practice nurses in ambulatory care roles have a proven track record of providing high-quality, cost-effective effective care.


In ambulatory care settings, RNs take the lead in improving the care individual patients receive and help shape healthcare policies on patient safety and quality care.

Nurse leaders are involved in staff development, mentoring, and maintaining their own credentials and expertise through advanced education, certification, and continuing education.

As leaders, nurses serve on boards and committees for their professional associations. They also serve as leaders in government agencies, uniformed services, and private entities. These nurses manage health care in times of crisis and conflict and implement important public health programs, such as influenza prevention.

Nurses in leadership positions can be found on city councils, state advisory boards and in the U.S. Congress, using nursing knowledge and team-building skills to influence laws that will benefit the public good.

The Many Faces of Nursing

The registered nurses may generally be perceived as working at the bedside. Nurses are present in hospitals, schools, industrial industries, on cruise ships, and a variety of ambulatory care settings. The reach of the nursing profession is wide and broad with many areas of specialization and opportunities for advanced education.

Nurse practitioners are often the only health care professionals providing primary care services in remote, rural areas or in low income, urban neighborhoods. Clinical nurse specialists are engaged in protocol development aimed at improving care for a range of patient populations. Nurse researchers are involved in a myriad of cutting-edge research including preventing heart disease in women and alleviating physical symptoms during cancer treatment.