National standards guide nursing practice.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) released its new edition of the Nursing: Scope & Standards (2nd Edition) on August 31, 2010. The book contains 15 national standards of practice and professional performance that, in ANA's words, describe the "who, what, when, where, why, and how of generalist and advanced practice nursing." The ANA makes the point that all nurses, regardless of where they work or their specialty area of practice, should practice by these standards. The standards also can be used to guide institutional policies and procedure development or revision, nursing education and certification, legal requirements for practice, quality improvement programs, and reimbursement and payment methods.
As the economy shrinks and nurses are increasingly facing the demands to do more with less, the ANA Standards are a great resource for nurses. However, it's been my observation that not all nurses are familiar with them, and it's likely that even fewer are aware that a new edition of the ANA Standards has recently been released. I imagine the ANA will be publicizing the release of the updated standards, but that may not be enough to reach all practicing nurses. Nurses "in the know" should use whatever means they have to disseminate information about the new standards: email address books, Facebook, nursing blogs, posting notices in workplaces, etc. We need to get the word out that the new ANA practice standards are now available.