The Academy serves the public and the nursing profession by advancing health policy and practice through the generation, synthesis, and dissemination of nursing knowledge. Every day across America, the Academy and its members create and execute knowledge-driving and policy-related initiates to drive reform of America's health system.

Academy's more than 2,200 members, known as Fellows, are nursing's most accomplished leaders in education management, practice and research. Fellows include association executives; university presidents, chancellors, and deans; state and federal political appointees; hospital chief executives and vice presidents for nursing; nurse consultants; researchers; and entrepreneurs.

Fellows have been recognized for their extraordinary nursing careers and are among the nation's most highly-educated citizens: more than 90% hold doctoral degrees and the rest have completed masters programs. Invitation to the fellowship represents more than recognition of one's accomplishments within the nursing profession. Academy fellows also have a responsibility to contribute their time and energies to the Academy and to engage with other health leaders outside the Academy in transforming America's health system by

  • Enhancing the quality of health and nursing care,
  • Promoting healthy aging and human development across the life continuum,
  • Reducing health disparities and inequalities,
  • Shaping healthy behaviors and environments,
  • Integrating mental and physical health, and
  • Strengthening the nursing and health delivery system, nationally and internationally.

The Academy is governed by a 10-member board of directors, elected by the Fellows. Board members oversee the Academy's strategic planning and financial management. Fellows are encouraged to participate in one of the Academy's expert panels that correlate with their area of expertise.

The Academy's annual policy conference, held each October, offers fellows and other interested parties (attendance is not limited to fellows) an opportunity to share ideas and help develop new strategies for nurses to drive the transformation of America's health system. Meetings during the conference also create opportunities for emerging nurse leaders to learn more about the Academy and its work, and to exchange ideas.

Nursing Outlook, a bi-monthly journal, provides innovative ideas for nursing leaders through peer-reviewed articles and timely reports. Each issue examines current issues and trends in nursing practice, education and research, offering progressive solutions to the challenges facing the profession. The journal provides nursing educators, policy makers, administrators and practitioners with practical advice, new teaching methods and recruiting techniques, curriculum and health policy developments, and information on proposals that will affect the profession. Nursing Outlook is included in MEDLINE, CINAHL, and the Journal Citation Reports Social Science Edition.

History of the Academy

The sole corporate member of the American Academy of Nursing is the American Nurses Association (ANA). First approved by the 1964–66 ANA House of Delegates, the American Nurses Association by-laws were amended to call for an Academy of Nursing for the advancement of knowledge, education, and nursing practice. On April 24, 1973, thirty-six charter fellows held their first meeting. Then, fellows were elected to the governing council, and Rheba de Tornyay was elected as the inaugural president. Operating objectives included

  • Advance new concepts in nursing and health;
  • Identify and explore issues in health, in the professions, and in society as they affect and are affected by nurses and nursing;
  • Examine the dynamics within nursing, the interrelationships among the segments within nursing, and examine the interaction among nurses as all these affect the development of the nursing profession; and
  • Identify and propose resolutions to issues and problems confronting nursing and health, including alternative plans for implementation.

Articles of incorporation were approved by the District of Columbia in December 1999 constituting the Academy as a nonprofit corporation qualifying the Academy as a section 501(c)3 corporation.

In 2006, the Academy established a Washington, DC, office in keeping with its strategic goals and recognizing the pivotal role of public policy in reforming American health. Academy staff identifies key policy issues in which the Academy can mobilize its fellows, along with allied individuals and organizations, to support the Academy's policy agenda and affect change. In addition, the staff oversees outreach to lawmakers, the White House and relevant federal agencies, and to the media and other key audiences as the Academy strive to assure that nurses and their frontline knowledge are integrated into the quest for a system that delivers high-quality, affordable health care to all Americans.