American Nurses Association standards of practice

What are the ANA Standards of Practice for Registered Nurses?

The American Nurses Association (ANA) is a nationally-recognized organization that is devoted to advancing and enhancing the nursing profession. As the largest voice for nurses across the United States, the ANA is constantly working to:

  • Adopt high standards of practice for registered nurses
  • Promote safe and ethical work environments in healthcare
  • Support nurses’ health and wellness
  • Advocate on issues that affect the nursing profession today

Registered nurses rely on the ANA to guide them in providing high quality care to patients, as well as to stay true to the ethical standards expected of modern-day nurses. Specifically, there are two, main resources from the ANA that nurses must know and reference during their training and careers: The ANA’s Code of Ethics for Nurses, as well as the ANA Nursing Standards. Both are designed to provide consistent and cohesive direction to nurses across the nation, by defining specific values and priorities for the modern nurse.

In a prior article, we discussed the Code of Ethics for Nurses. In this guide, you will learn more about the ANA’s Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice.

What are the ANA Standards of Practice?

The ANA Standards of Practice refers to the document, Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, developed by the American Nurses Association. This resource is meant to inform and guide registered nurses (RNs) in providing safe, quality, and competent patient care. It is consistently updated to reflect the latest topics, technologies, and issues affecting nursing. Recently, in the Spring of 2021, the ANA released its fourth edition of the Standards of Practice, which you can find here.

This ANA resource is divided into two components, as the title infers. The first is a scope of practice statement, which defines nursing care, processes, and methods, discusses the different nursing professionals, and divulges the future of their work. The second is the ANA’s standards of practice for nurses today. The most recent edition reveals 18 standards of practice for nursing professionals.

As explained by the ANA, “The Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, 4th Edition, is an essential document for every nurse practicing in the United States. The scope of practice statement answers the who, what, when, where, how, and why questions of nursing. The standards provide authoritative statements of the actions and behaviors that all registered nurses are expected to competently perform, regardless of role, population, specialty, and setting.”

So, what exactly are those standards of practice, as cited by the ANA? Let’s find out.

The 18 ANA Standards of Practice

The ANA Standards of Practice outline and describe a competent level of care for registered nurses to follow. From assessment to diagnosis, planning to implementation, the below standards are fundamental to the nursing care process, and foundational for all registered nurses:

1. Assessment:

RNs must be able to effectively collect data and patient information that is relative to their condition or situation. This is part of the assessment process.

2. Diagnosis:

RNs must be able to analyze the data gathered during the assessment phrase, to determine potential or actual diagnoses.

3. Outcomes Identification:

In part with the above, RNs should be able to effectively predict outcomes for the patient.

4. Planning:

After identifying a diagnosis and outcomes, RNs must develop a plan or strategy to attain the best possible outcome for the patient in need.

5. Implementation:

RNs can then implement the identified plan. This may be done by coordinating care for the patient, such as administering treatment, and/or promoting good health and safe healing environments.

6. Evaluation:

After implementation, a nurse must monitor and evaluate the patient’s progress towards the expected outcome or health goals.

After the Evaluation standard, the ANA delves into the Standards of Professional Performance for nurses. These are meant to ensure nurses maintain a competent level of behavior in the professional role, in aspects related to ethics, communication, education, leadership, quality of care, and more.

As stated in the ANA’s third edition of Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, “Registered nurses are expected to engage in professional role activities, including leadership, appropriate to their education and position. Registered nurses are accountable for their professional actions to themselves, their healthcare consumers, their peers, and ultimately to society.” They continue the standards with:

7. Ethics:

This means a nurse must practice ethically in their role.

8. Advocacy:

Nurses are not just healthcare providers; they are also advocates for their patients. Nurses must demonstrate advocacy and support the needs of their patients, no matter their background.

9. Respectful and Equitable Practice:

Nurses must be respectful of all patients, families, healthcare consumers, and professionals. They must demonstrate equitable care for all patients in need.

10. Communication:

A registered nurse must be able to communicate effectively in all areas of practice, including with patients, families, and the greater medical team.

11. Collaboration:

Nurses must also be able to collaborate with other healthcare team members, as well as the patient, as they conduct their nursing practice.

12. Leadership:

Registered nurses are also leaders. They must demonstrate leadership skills within the profession.

13. Education:

Nursing is always changing and evolving. RNs must always seek out ways to grow their knowledge, skills, and competence to reflect current nursing practice and future ways of thinking.

14. Scholarly Inquiry:

Nurses are always learning, as the field advances. Therefore, RNs must help contribute to the profession through scholarly inquiry and research.

15. Quality of Practice:

Quality of practice means that the nurse demonstrates and contributes to a high quality of care.

16. Professional Practice Evaluation:

A nurse must be able to evaluate their own professionalism and practice, as well as the practice of others, in order to consistently grow and provide the best quality of care.

17. Resource Stewardship:

Nurses must be able to utilize the appropriate resources to plan, provide, and sustain care services. They must also take care to ensure these services are safe, effective, and responsible.

18. Environmental Health:

RNs must practice in an environmentally safe and healthy manner.

Becoming a Competent Registered Nurse

As discussed, the goal of the ANA’s Scope and Standards of Practice for Nurses is to elevate the nursing profession and ensure that all nurses, nationwide, have consistent guidelines, values, and priorities to adhere to in their careers. The ANA Standards of Practice are put forth to ensure nurses across the country are competent and capable of providing top-quality and ethical care to all patients in need.

For aspiring nurses, it is important to be familiar with the American Nurses Association and their role in the nursing field. Familiarize yourself with their Code of Ethics, as well as their Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice, as you prepare to launch a career.

To ensure the level of competency expected by nurses today, all aspiring RNs must complete a postsecondary training program and earn licensure to practice. In Connecticut specifically, RNs must complete at least an associate degree in Nursing from an accredited nursing school, in order to qualify for the national board examination (NCLEX-RN). This level of program prepares aspiring nurses with the fundamental skills, knowledge, and technique needed to be a great nurse. Some nurses, however, choose to continue advancing their education with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN).

Goodwin University is a recognized nursing school in Connecticut, accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Here, students can pursue an associate degree in Nursing, RN-to-BSN completion program, or pursue a graduate degree through the MSN or APRN routes. To learn about our nursing programs, online and in Connecticut, please do not hesitate to reach out.

You may request information here.