February 2023 President's Letter

Greetings SPN Members!


It is with profound gratitude that I recognize Cecily Betz, PhD, RN, FAAN who completed her amazing 36 year run as the Journal of Pediatric Nursing’s Editor-in-Chief since the inaugural issue in February 1986. As one of the founding members of SPN, Dr. Betz also saw the need for a specialized journal with pediatric nursing content. Dr. Betz’s vision and work over the past 36 years as Editor-in-Chief have allowed for the dissemination of research and evidence-based practice through the publication of peer-reviewed manuscripts from nursing and inter-professional colleagues worldwide. The Journal of Pediatric Nursing has been SPN’s official journal for the past two decades, and we celebrate Dr. Betz’s vision, leadership, and commitment to advancing the specialty of pediatric nursing. Dr.Betz is now serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the new Journal, Health Care Transitions, and we wish her well in her new role.


Last month, the Gallup Poll announced that once again, nurses continue to lead the way as being the most trusted profession, a distinction our profession has held for the past two decades. In their poll, 79% of adults said nurses have “very high” or “high” honesty and ethical standards. One definition of trust is “feeling safe when vulnerable,” so being thought of as the most trusted profession is a testament to the compassionate care nurses provide and the way in which nurses advocate for and empower patients and families in their most vulnerable moments. Congratulations to all of you, my fellow pediatric nurses on this well-deserved accolade!


In the early days of COVID-19, nurses were lauded for their commitment and dedication in the face of an unknown lethal disease. In the early months, communities gathered on their porches and balconies banging pots and pans in support of nurses. As COVID-19 persisted and hospitals began to see surges in COVID-19, the healthcare system was stretched in ways we had not seen before, exacerbating already existing staffing concerns, and creating work environment challenges. Much of the community recognition waned despite the increasing demands placed on nurses. States enacted emergency declarations that nullified staffing ratios/guidelines in response to both the COVID-19 and the RSV surges. While staffing challenges have been highlighted in the news, the lay public likely does not truly understand the impact these last three years have had on nurses in an already fragile healthcare system.

Large numbers of nurses have retired, left nursing for other professions, or left permanent employment to become travel nurses. These trends have intensified the need to focus on healthy work environments, nurse wellness and safe staffing.

Many nurses remaining in the workforce are burned out. The inability to provide the level of care nurses want to deliver and feel their patients deserve, has left many experiencing moral injury and burnout, increasing the likelihood of more nurses leaving our profession. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses has identified six standards to promote a healthy work environment. Creating and maintaining a healthy work environment will positively impact nursing engagement, decrease burnout, reduce turnover, and improve patient outcomes. The recent events we are seeing in the news, such as the New York nurses strike, are indicative of systemic breakdowns to meet one or more of these six standards.

Currently, the largest growth of the RN workforce is comprised of new graduate nurses, most of whom end up on the night shift. It has intensified the experience/complexity gap, which is a growing gap between nursing experience and the complexity of patient care needs. I encourage you to review SPN’s Core Competencies. These resources were designed to enhance pre-licensure educational preparation and support the transition of the graduating nurse generalist into the profession of pediatric nursing and may help to ensure your nursing curriculum and residency onboarding program content supports new graduate nurses in their transition into the nursing workforce.

In the state of California where I practice, we have mandated staffing ratios of nurses to patients in hospitals, requiring one nurse for every two patients in ICUs and one for every four patients in emergency departments and pediatrics. These ratios are meant to establish the minimum staffing ratios and should not be the sole determinant of staffing. Staffing is a complex issue composed of multiple variables, and therefore, no single published ratio for nurse staffing is automatically applicable in all settings where children receive care. The Safe Staffing for Pediatric Patients position statement provides additional information and resources that can be incorporated into designing safe staffing plans for inpatient units.


In 2020 the SPN Board called for a specific focus on diversity, equity and inclusion and initiated the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force. I want to thank Task Force Chair Asma Taha, Ph.D., RN, CPNP-PC/AC, PCNS-BC, FAAN and committee members Anastasia Brennan, MSN, MPH, RN, CPN; Victoria Stamp, BSN, RN, CPN; Megan Dorrington, MSN, MBA, RN, NPD-BC, CPN; and Jenifer Stephen, PhD, RN, CPN for the work they have done to assure SPN’s structure and efforts are aligned with DEI principles. This year, the task force has coordinated quarterly webinars to assist with members’ awareness. I hope you had the chance to attend January’s webinar on More than Just Hair: Improving Hair Equity in Healthcare presented by Surlina Asamoa, MSN, MHA, RN, CCM and Laura F. Watson, MSN, RN, CDFT. If you were unable to attend, the session was recorded and can be downloaded and viewed from the education tab on the website.


Registration is open for our 33rd Annual Conference scheduled for April 26-28, 2023 in Pittsburg, PA. This year’s them is Building Bridges and Making Connections. Register early and save $150 by taking advantage of the early bird registration rate if you register by March 24, 2023, and don’t forget to check out the preliminary program!

Kathy Van Allen, MSN, RN, CPN
SPN President
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